Monday, 16 February 2015


I’m going to try something new here, a theatre review.
I know, a few of you may find this an odd thing to discover here at Hickey’s House of Horrors, but those in the know are aware of a number of chilling stage plays out there. Obviously the long-running Woman In Black is showing no signs of ever running out of steam, but last night I had the pleasure to visit The Arts Theatre, London to watch the critically acclaimed Ghost Stories.
In its final month before closing, could the show that promises to mix ‘the very best of theatre with the buzz of a thrill ride’ possibly live up to that level of hype?

GHOST STORIES (originally presented 2010, performed February 2015)

Dir: Jeremy Dyson, Sean Holmes & Andy Nyman
Starring: Paul Kemp, Simon Holmes, Paul Kendrick, Tristan Beint, Alexander Nicolau

SPEEDY SYNOPSIS: It is vital that I don’t spoil any of the show's big secrets, so I’m going to keep this pretty vague.

The show takes the form of a talk on parapsychology delivered from one Professor Goodman. As he speaks on the nature of ghost stories and belief in the supernatural, we are presented with key examples of these stories from his research — including the tales of down-to-earth night watchman Tony Matthews, skittish young student Simon Rifkind and boorish banker Mike Priddle.

VERDICT: I have long been a fan of the works of both writers: Jeremy Dyson (especially the amazing League of Gentlemen) and Andy Nyman (he was awesome in both Dead Set and Severance and I like his creative work with Derren Brown, such as Seance), so I went in with pretty high expectations.
Ghost Stories blew them away.
The story is compelling, terrifying, clever, terrifying and, at times, very, very funny (but mainly terrifying). Dyson and Nyman are undoubtedly horror connoisseurs and the play is packed with subtle nods to some of the greatest genre tales. 
There is a fine seam of humour running throughout the script, it is used as a fine tension breaker at times, coming in the form of reactions and even jokes delivered by characters but also in certain character traits (I know I will be unable to resist putting my mobile phone in my pocket in a distinctive manner from now on). The characterisation is wonderful (undoubtedly helped by the fantastic cast who were uniformly absolutely brilliant — there was a standing ovation from plenty of audience members at the end, myself included, and it was completely deserved) with Professor Goodman, our lead, a likeable and engaging speaker and host for the proceedings.
I cannot say too much about those proceedings themselves (nor would I even dream of spoiling them) but suffice to say the shocks and scares are so pulse-poundingly chilling that I was physically shaking when I stepped out into the night air of Great Newport Street.
With some truly wonderful set design work from Jon Bausor accompanied with nightmarish sound design by Nick Manning and heart-stopping special effect work by Scott Penrose, the play is an all-out hardcore fear assault on the senses. 
I LOVED it. This run is scheduled to end on 15th March 2015, so there's still time to check it out. Head over to the show's official web site here to get tickets.
Still unsure? Don't be.
If you have half an interest in horror, be it classic genre literature such as the works of Algernon Blackwood, Ramsey Campbell or M R James, or cinematic spinetinglers such as Dead of Night, The Haunting or Rosemary's Baby, you NEED to see Ghost Stories.
If you have half an interest in well-produced theatre, you NEED to see Ghost Stories.
If you have half an interest in rich, beautifully told storytelling realised by a top notch cast, you NEED to see Ghost Stories.
And finally, if you want to experience a truly frightening live action work that shames most so-called horror cinema, YOU NEED TO SEE GHOST STORIES.
Just prepare yourself for sleepless nights to follow.
You have indeed been warned.

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Until next time, I hope you enjoyed your stay.

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