Afraid of the Dark

Theatre, Drama
  • 1 out of 5 stars
  • 2 out of 5 stars
(30user reviews)
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 (© Eric Richmond)
© Eric Richmond
 (© Eric Richmond)
© Eric Richmond
 (© Eric Richmond)
© Eric Richmond
 (© Eric Richmond)
© Eric Richmond
 (© Eric Richmond)
© Eric Richmond
 (© Eric Richmond)
© Eric Richmond
 (© Eric Richmond)
© Eric Richmond
 (© Eric Richmond)
© Eric Richmond

Let’s be clear about this. ‘Afraid of the Dark’ is dreadful. The script is dreadful, the direction is dreadful, the effects are dreadful. The acting? You guessed it. The whole ‘Not suitable for those of a nervous disposition’ marketing shtick is just that: marketing shtick, cribbed from the far superior ‘Ghost Stories’. But at least the whole thing’s internally consistent. With a plot immersed in the world of the Hollywood B-Picture, this is a cynical cash-grab in the tradition of the worst ’50s drive-thru hokum.

The action is atrociously constructed and unforgivably talky, as a struggling studio finds inspiration for their next schlocky monster movie from a mysterious stranger. In it, ex-vaudeville star Henry Charlier hands each member of the film’s company a sealed envelope that brings terrible nightmares, dreadful visions and eventually…

Director Ian Talbot should know better, his work here is seriously substandard, and the scares and illusions by Darren Lang are laughable. Julian Forsyth is actually acting in his turn as the creepy Charlier, and hence feels totally out of place.

The script is credited to ‘Anonymous’, so in absence of anyone concrete to blame, I’m directing my ire towards ‘Literary Consultant’ Jack Bradley. Oh, Jack. What were you thinking, Jack? How could you let this happen?

By Stewart Pringle


Average User Rating

2.3 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:3
  • 4 star:7
  • 3 star:2
  • 2 star:1
  • 1 star:17
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Sarah C

To slate a homage to B move horror for being naff is somewhat ironic I feel - this little gem is an exceedingly good evening for a giggle and some spooks. The use of old school illusions and magic tricks we all recognise gave the production a comforting old time thriller feel. Whilst I agree a couple of accents were scarier than the script the over all performance was excellent with the use of a couple of 4D additions sending the audience laughing at the shock which I thought was also quite inventive. The theatre itself was a good venue too as you felt hidden away in the vault under the railway tracks. I think the joy of this play will be lost on those not fans of classic or cult horror but for the rest of us it was a excellent and just needs a bit of polishing.


Though rather slow to get going it wasn't nearly as bad as I had thought from reading the previous reviews. There could have been more scares as the acting is superb but once it had finished looking at most of the audience, the majority were smiling even upon leaving the theatre, I just came back from a Saturday showing with my sister. I would consider it a suspenseful thriller, the actual theatre rocks though!


We paid £16 each for these tickets. Which is about £16 more than its worth... I would rather have sat on a park bench and paid homeless people to throw stones at me for an hour and a half. This being said we had great fun laughing about it after.


It is not as bad as some people says, For instance, horror films are usually very cheap, people cannot expect a horror films effects in the Theatre. I saw 'Ghost Stories' and I think this one was better.

Anna Wissler

Went to see Afraid of the Dark during the afternoon. I don't the slightest agree with all the people that's writing this show down. No it's not what's it has been advertised as a scary play but what it is a truly enjoyable piece of entertainment. All acting is solid and especially by Mark Rice Oxley playing Hershell and Julian Forsyth playing Dr Charlier.

John Carden

The Tim Out review sums it up really the play was in no way scary or even funny was just boring and a waste of time. I saw a play called ghost Stories a few years back which was great and was hoping it was going to be in the same league but this conference league at the most. Terrible don't bother going to see it unless you have the mind of a child and are easily entertained by a load of people waffling on on stage.


Whoever has slated this play clearly has no intelligence, understanding or sense of humour. Another rubbish time out review. In fact, if I read a bad timeout review i now make a point of going to watch/ listen to/ or eat in the place they are reviewing as its bound to be excellent. This is a B-movie, tongue in cheek, clearly not going to be scary and absolutely hilarious. I haven't laughed so much at anything in a long time. I highly recommend this. The talented actors have clearly played their parts too well as some people seem to think they are really bad actors ( can those people please google b movie). Don't come here expecting the Royal Shakespeare Company, don't come expecting Insidious.


Just watched this show with my boyfriend and have to agree with Time Out: Utter rubbish. Bad dialogue, cheap effects, bad and lazy scripting. The actors tried to make the best out of it but hardly to any avail. 90 minutes dragged on, interest was lost, the effects became rather annoying and in the end £60 for two tickets were wasted.... The audience gave a polite, very reserved applause - and I couldn't wait to get out... Shame, could have been sooooo much better in the right hands...

Daniel Lang

The actor who played Roger was pretty good but he was the only saving grace... We walked out wish I could have got a refund... Save your time and money.


I don't know how people can have such a bad opinion of this show. I saw it last night with my wife and we both thought it was really good and an entertaining night. It isn't as scary as it could have been, but there were certainly bits that made everyone jump and had some tension, and a few good uses of 4D. It is a bit tongue in cheek, but again, that is what I expected. The story is engaging, but could be polished a little, and the acting very good (a few dodgy accents at the beginning soon got overlooked). I actually felt sorry for the actors, as the ending is more of a surprise in terms of timing, so the audience were not ready to applaud. The actors should get a lot more credit than they seem to get. The production has obviously been compared to the brilliant Ghost Stories, which would be hard for anything to live up to, so do not expect quite such a high standard. Essentially go there, enjoy it for what it is. I would definitely see it again.


The couple next to me got the giggles which was some relief. However, the most exciting part of the evening was when the chap next to me discovered that he has a creaky seat. Truly awful!


After watching this show last night I'm not entirely sure what I had watched. The dimming of the lights, the constant black outs, the sudden flash of a bright light that left me blinded, the sound effects that really had nothing to do with the current scene... it was all too much of a bad thing. The only thing 'scary' was the one flash of a Freddie Kruger look a like who never returned, nor was he explained. The story line was beyond weak and the acting was abysmal. The thing that has horrified me the most, is the fact I paid £30 for a ticket.


The Time's review has hit the nail on the head for 'Afraid of the Dark'. With it's sudden bright light flashing in your eyes and dropping to blackout every single time something 'scary' was meant to happen, has left me more blinded than trembling in my chair. The set was abysmal. The acting was debatable. The atmosphere was flaccid. And the story line was poor and unimaginative. Compared to the spine tingling hit 'Ghost Stories' this was as scary as a stale piece of bread.


I don't think it is fair to say that the performances were terrible. I thought it was well performed by good actors, and the theatrical effects are fun. OK, so it's not Tom Stoppard, but I've had many worse nights in the theatre. The Charing Cross Theatre is "Off Broadway" I suppose. I've been to quite a few of the shows there. They are often somewhat offbeat and different, but not in any sort of pretentious way, and they have a sort of honesty about them. I enjoyed this.


Having seen Afraid of the Dark with three of my friends, I can honestly say we all agree, this has to be one of the worse things on stage at the moment. Everything about this play was bad, from the acting to the set and especially the (terrifying) illusions, which were anything but. If you are thinking of going you’d be better off keeping your money in your pocket.

Jayson R.

Went with friends last night and though it wasn't scary, we all had a blast. Had a few drinks and laughed and jumped out of our seats a few times. Fun night and good for a laugh with friends. Don't take it too seriously and you will have a great time.

Sean Barnes

Righty. Afraid of the Dark currently playing at the Charing Cross Theatre. Firstly, let me recap the promotional blurb for this: "What's the scariest thing about the dark? You can't see the very thing you're afraid of..." Afraid of the Dark, a new brand of theatrical terror full of spine-tingling horror, jaw-dropping illusions and mind-bending plot twists, has its World Premiere in London this autumn at The Charing Cross Theatre 50s Hollywood. A failing B-movie producer and his team struggle to find the next terrifying blockbuster. A mysterious stranger appears – blurring the line between nightmare and reality while worming his way into their minds, exploiting their very worst fears…… Where does your nightmare begin? WARNING! Afraid of the Dark is not suitable for children under 12, those of a nervous disposition or for those suffering with serious heart conditions. There are various elements to this description that are in breach of the Trade Descriptions Act 1968. There was no spine-tingling terror. None. At all. I've seen Crunchy Nut Cornflake adverts that were more 'spine-tingling' than this. If spine-tingling involves flashing bright lights at the audience and spraying them with dried rice, then it has this in spades. In fact I could have used one of those spades to bury myself alive to try and avoid the utter boredom from the awfulness of this show. 'Jaw-dropping illusions.' Blink and you'll miss them. If knotting two red hankies together and revealing a card from someone's ear is jaw-dropping, then my jaw is still on the floor of the stalls at the Charing Cross Theatre. Perhaps my understanding of what jaw-dropping is is different to the writer, who sensibly is only known as anonymous. 'Mind-bending plot twists.' The only mind-bending element of this plot was what the hell was going on. There were vast parts where I didn't know what was happening, or even why I was still breathing. This show is probably not suitable for those suffering with serious heart conditions as that they would suffer a myocardial infarction from the fact that they've been sold a pup and have lost 90 valuable minutes of their limited remaining life. If you were thinking of seeing this, don't go. If you've already bought tickets to this, don't go. You'd be better off spending an evening watching the test card in black and white on a television that also suffers from poor reception. It would be more fun... and the time would go quicker. So bad it wasn't even funny.

Elijah Kay

Saw this show last night and had a terrific time. While I wasn't scared, my mates and I did jump out of our seats a few times and laughed our asses off at each other. Definitely very funny and very gripping at times but the things that happen to the audience are the most fun of all. Terrific night out. Creepy, silly fun.


We saw Afraid Of The Dark last night and were pleasantly surprised. The writing was clever and the story was gripping. My girlfriend jumped several times during the show and I believe I let out an audible gasp, which made me laugh. It was fun, creepy and at times scary. We had a great time and found it to be quite entertaining!


Well that was disappointing!! I decided that if there was a comfort break in this show that I would have to leave, but luckily it only lasted 1.5 hours. Not scary in the slightest and not exactly mentally challenging either. Can't believe I wasted an evening in London and a lot of money, to see a short, boring play. I wish I had read the previous reviews before I booked it and saved myself a lot of time and money.


I couldn't agree more with all of the below - truly awful. It was neither scary, nor funny enough to be a horror parody. The opening scene was promising but, unfortunately, the rest of the production simply did not deliver. I suspect the anonymous writer will remain so when reviews are published. Contrary to the publicity, I doubt the production would cause any problems for "children under 12, those of a nervous disposition or those suffering with serious heart conditions" but I certainly wouldn't recommend to fans of theatre or horror.


I went to see this show last night with my boyfriend and all I can say is what a load of rubbish. The story was pants, the acting was pants and the special effects are so bad it turned a horror show in to a comedy. The only thing that made me squirm was watching the actors spit all over each over as they spoke. I agree with the other reviews in the sense that I walked out feeling that I had sat at the local village hall watching a local amdram group not a west end show. If you have seen Ghost Stories do not watch this as you will feel like you have been mugged when you leave the theatre. I have had to give this 1star to give this a rating but it is not even worth 1star. If there had an interval we would have left then. It was soooo bad I feel the audiance begruded giving an applause at the end, worst show we have ever been to.


Oh dear....if you are reading this prior to attending this "scary" theatrical experience....then CURB YOUR ENTHUSIASM ! We sat in a local pub nursing our £17 worth of gin saying how excited we were to be going to something new and interesting. "How could it be so scary that it has warnings for those of a nervous disposition", we wondered ".....did they have actors in the audience !? How much would it be in the dark!? What amazing illusions would there be?? Projections on the walls or ceiling...?" NO,NO NO!!! Poor story line, bad acting, illusions which came from the Teach Yourself Magic box and a terrible ending all led to a feeling of total disappointment. My husband slept through part of the play and the people in front of us went to fetch drinks THREE times ( they obviously didn't think they would miss anything) At the final curtain there was a slightly stunned silence and then one round of polite applause. In fact having considered it further, the story was echoed by the play.....trying to find the next great horror, no money for elaborate props etc. I can imagine the writer ( who chose to be unnamed...I wonder why?) thinking of the basic plot and then passing it on to be "fleshed" out by creative visual effects and illusions which have simply not happened. Having recently attended "The Drowned Man" which was truely AMAZING and admittedly difficult to match this seemed like a village amateur show in the local hall. I walked around the former show agog with my mouth open.....don't do that in this production as you may get more in it than you anticipate!!! The stars of this show are the cute theatre and the lovely front of house staff!!!

Caroline Lynch

This play came with a lot of hype - always a bad sign. So I wasn't expecting much. Having said that, the opening half, in particular, was promising, with some classic horror touches, excellent lighting and sound effects, and, eh, audience participation. The main problem was that the story fell completely apart as the play wore on, and fizzled out towards the end. I do wonder whether this (anonymous) playwright just couldn't think of a decent ending. Can happen to the best of us, y'know. All in all, enjoyable, watchable, but not unmissable. And I think those with heart conditions can, by and large, feel safe in watching this. Contrary to what the advertising says.


Let's make one thing clear, this show was not scary (unless you consider occasional bangs and flashlights terrifying) and this comes from a person who is very easily scared. It's more of a horror parody than anything else. The storyline was rather blunt but some witty jokes and one particular character saved the day.


At first I thought the play was terrible in an entertaining sort of way but after checking the synopsis again all I can say is it's terrible. Not scary in the slightest, cheap half thought out tricks and dialogue so bad it had half the audience giggling at all the wrong moments. The plot made no sense and the only eerie part was a strange thumping noise that happened to conincide with a particular characters dialogue (this was later pointed out to most likely be from the trains from the station above). Terrible play don't see it


Simply awful. I bought tickets for me and my partner as a surprise, and I felt ashamed when it finished. Not only not scary but looked like it needed to be rehearsed more. Cheap tricks and a not-very-interesting story. Definitively wasted money.

Laura B

If you liked "Ghost Stories" DON'T go and see this. It's like a bad copy. Not as thrilling, not as captivating and nowhere near as good. I am sad I wasted my money, and I bought my tickets at half price! It doesn't link together seamlessly, it doesn't seem to have a clear, defined ending and the audience weren't even sure it finished. If you sit in row L forwards, you will miss one of the "effects" too. It is such a shame but I really would suggest you don't bother.