Professor Phillip Goodman, lecturer in parapsychology

Ghost Stories

The Alexandra Theatre


It’s ten years since Ghost Stories by Andy Nyman and Jeremy Dyson first crept into the blackness of a live stage and since then, it’s gone on to haunt venues across the globe and even reincarnated itself into a feature film.

It certainly packs a spooky punch and although not a prerequisite, this cold winter spell and our early nights are perfect for building the expectations of what’s about to come.

Sean Holmes has added his Derren Brown production experience to the combined writers hand and now co directs this new tour of chilling Ghostly Tales.

Pre show anticipation seems to be integral in creating the atmosphere with warnings of being locked in with no interval and no re-admittance if you leave your seat for any reason. It was something that would have been well observed had a party of late arrivals not been shown to their seats a third way through the play and several individuals leaving and returning during the performance. These might seem incidental but in a show that lasts for 90 minutes and depends on the tension being created by intense periods of quiet followed by thundering sound effects, even a few seconds of someone’s toilet break is enough to ruin the atmosphere.

Its debatable whether or not you can truly create real horror in a theatre but Ghost Stories goes all out in its attempt and is the best you will see in giving you a few real frights. There’s a mass of skilled theatre craft at play here and the stories rely on the big jumps rather than any sustained feeling of terror. These are still pretty intense when they come.

Critics are requested not to give too much away about the plot of the play but with some pretty revealing spoiler reviews after the film version landed, it might have been more appropriate to vary the storyline for this tour if the secrets were really meant to be kept.


The Nightwatchman with a tale to tell

The tech is very important in a production like this and James Farncombe’s lighting or lack of it helps to frame every scene whilst Nick Manning’s sound design underscores the tension with low rumblings and punctuates the screams with deafening intensity.

Suffice to say the premise is that we are all in attendance of a lecture by parapsychology professor Phillip Goodman, played by Joshua Higgott. The professor gives us a background of our own supernatural fears and by example uses his voice recordings of victim’s who have endured paranormal activity, these segue nicely into the live stage action.

There’s first a tale of the Nightwatchman played by Paul Hawkyard alone in a gloomy factory, second is that of Simon Rifkind and his late night drive home played out by Gus Gordon. At the conclusion of each we return to the professor who reflects on the horror we have witnessed. It continues with a man called Mike Priddle played by Richard Sutton who is part of some unreal happenings prior to the birth of his child.

Finally there is a lecture conclusion like no other by the good professor and whilst the ending is a little too jokey to make it a solid fright it is none the less a clever twist.

It’s all too easy to feel comfortable in the gloomy chill of this event knowing you are in a collected audience as true fear is a much lonelier and isolated experience. However the one thing that prevails is it is a very different and unique evening and that alone makes it original.

From the anticipation of what you are about to witness, to the increasing tension as each tale is revealed and the `out of your seat’ impact of some intense happenings, Ghost Stories is an enjoyable fright night and a well performed and crafted theatrical experience. To 11-01-19.

Jeff Grant


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