Ghost Stories

Theatre, Drama
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 (© Dan Wooller)
© Dan Wooller

Philip Whitchurch (Tony Matthews)

 (© Dan Wooller)
© Dan Wooller

Paul Kemp (Professor Philip Goodman)

Back to make the West End wet itself once again, Jeremy Dyson and Andy Nyman’s ‘Ghost Stories’ is the perfect fit for the gloomy, subterranean Arts Theatre. As before, the production is shrouded in playful secrecy, with audiences sworn to silence lest they ruin the experience for future punters. The theatre has received a creepy makeover and there are night vision cameras trained on the hyped-up crowd to record their anticipated screams.

It’s always been three parts ride to one part play, and while the script remains largely unchanged, Dyson, Nyman and director Sean Holmes have upped the shock factor for this latest outing, with mixed results.

The ghostly recollections of Professor Goodman are a warm and affectionate tribute to the horror anthologies of the 1970s, mixing contemporary comic detail with a patina of vintage schlock. There’s also a pervasive sense of loneliness and quiet despair to the early scenes that Dyson and Nyman colour skilfully.

The problem with this latest production is that much of this detail and atmosphere is drowned out by a cast that spend too long mugging for laughs and an overenthusiastic application of loud noises in the dark. Moments of creeping unease are frequently goofed by a campy reveal or cheap giggle. Too much of the horror is played for the scare cams, rather than the audience’s hearts and minds.

There’s some stunning effects work by Scott Penrose, however, and Nick Manning’s brilliant sound design is responsible for many of the show’s biggest and best scares. And for a final twist of unease, lead actor Paul Kemp plays the good Professor as a dead spit for Nigel Farage. Now THAT’S scary.

‘Ghost Stories’ is never less than thoroughly, pulse-poundingly entertaining, even if it’s not quite the pedigree spook show it once was.

By: Stewart Pringle


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Average User Rating

3.4 / 5

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This show doesn't know if it wants to be a magic show with elaborate stories (for a magic show)  or a series of stores with elaborate magic (for an anthology of stories). It doesn't work for either. The 'stories' are entirely superficial - you've seen them all before if you've ever read or even a horror story ever. And then, you're only getting the highlights of the story. The 'magic' s OK but not for a magic show - Nyman (co-writer is one of the brains behind Derren Bown). In the end Ghost Stories is all LOUD SOUND EFFECTS and no substance. No story-telling at all and mediocre magic tricks.

We didn't know to expect really so hopes were high. And I wasn't disappointed but my partner was extatic! It started rather typically as 3 horror stories but ended with a nice twist and each of the stories had its moments. Very good playing skills of most of actors and unusuall atmosphere in the theatre ( you can bring a drink from the bar to your seat :) In general typical horror but scarier than book or movie as it happens in the front of your eyes

We were so looking forward to this show, having read several reviews. Could not have been more disappointed or less scared. A complete waste of money - and the tickets weren't cheap. Unfortunately we paid full price. I'd actually say that this is the worst show I personally have ever seen.

Saw this last night, quite entertaining but Scary?!?  guess I just couldn't suspend my imagination far enough, to get out of my mind that I was in a theatre and the people on stage were actors. In fact it felt more like pantomome than anything else. The best parts are the sound effects and volume of. Sorry I expected more, so was ultimately disappointed. Guess you would need to go and see it and make your own mind up, there were some young lady's in front of me who seemed genuinely terrified. Guess it's 'horses for courses'.

I saw this with a group of friends. We were sitting in the back row and have never screamed so much in our lives! Really good fun, but also really jumpy - mixture of joy and terror!

"Ghost Stories" fits superbly into the industrial feel black box auditorium of the Arts theatre, much better than when it was at the Duke of Yorks. Very atmospheric, very scary and what I expected and sadly lacking from "The Weir" I got tonight in "Ghost Stories" - true horror and chills to put you on the edge of your seat. Not for the faint hearted, and tonight I shall make sure the bedroom curtains are well and truly closed - any slight crack of light peeking through will make me have have nightmares. Go see "Ghost Stories" but be prepared to be truly scared! Loved it

The atmosphere starts in the lobby, with horrific decor. Recommendation - go to the toilet beforehand. Why? It's right beside the auditorium, and the background track - I wouldn't really call it music - that plays before the show is piped in there too. It's quite a surreal experience to go to the toilet to the accompaniment of loud dripping sounds, clanking, moaning.. The description of the show format from 2010 still holds true. It's the same format. I can't vouch for whether it's the same show - I suppose not. It starts with quite an interesting lecture, followed by re-enactments of three experiences that the "professor" had told to him. Mostly for laughs, these - but the end of the show is truly creepy. Go see! If you like a decent scare, you will not be disappointed.