With its hair-raising special effects, dramatic lighting and spine-tingling storytelling, GHOST STORIES makes for a terrifyingly terrific evening
It’s been 10 years since GHOST STORIES made its debut in London. Since then, it has moved to the West End, toured the globe and has even been made into a successful film in 2017 starring Martin Freeman and Paul Whitehouse. Written by Jeremy Dyson and Andy Nyman, the hotly anticipated theatre show heads back out on a UK tour, with a stop at Salford’s The Lowry.
A staunch warning is cautioned for anyone with a nervous disposition to carefully consider before attending the evening’s unnerving performance and I have to admit that, whilst I do love a good fright fest and the pleasing thrill that ensues, even I was a little trepidatious as the lights dimmed and the auditorium hushed.
Parapsychologist Professor Goodman (Joshua Higgott) enters the stage and introduces himself before beginning to deliver his lecture and explaining exactly what we are about to witness. We are to be regaled with three ghost stories from three men that Goodman has interviewed previously about their individual ‘paranormal experiences’. The lecture melds into each ghost story seamlessly, and the suspense builds well into each piece, before landing a spine-chilling hit at the opportune moment, with actual screams of fright emitting from audience members and real punching jump scares.
Gus Gorman, Paul Hawkyard and Richard Sutton each deliver their monologues well, putting an individual twist to each of their terrifying tales. Jon Bausor’s set design is equally a mastermind, the macabre set turning into something more sinister as the night evolves. A sinister depository setting for Night Watchman Tony Matthews to patrol, a broken-down car in the dead of night for Simon Rifkin’s sinister story and a ghoulish nursery set for yuppie businessman, Mike Priddle’s eldritch tale.
There is a sense of shared experience throughout each tale as each audience member jumps and starts, screaming or hiding their faces into a partner or friend and giggling somewhat nervously at their reactions and the reactions of others audience members. The hair-raising special effects and sets are just part of the skill that builds the perfect level of suspense throughout the performance.
The ominous, and at times, almost deafening sound from Nick Manning reverberates from all around the theatre and the dramatic lighting from James Rancombe creates a sense of disorientation which only adds to the feelings of nervousness and dread in the room. Director Sean Holmes has evidently drawn on his prior experience of working with Derren Brown with punchy stunts which are spectacularly staged.
I’d point out anyone that is familiar with Dyson’s prior work on THE LEAGUE OF GENTLEMEN will probably be conscious that there is an underlying thread beneath the stories unfolding on the stage. The finale had me hugging my knees beneath my chin with its manic conclusion. The twist was sheer brilliance.
GHOST STORIES has endured such a long-lived popularity due to the patrons and critics alike keeping the narratives secret so I’m not about to break that run. #keepthesecrets.
If you like being scared, then fill your boots as you’re about to have a terrifyingly terrific evening. You’ll leave the theatre with a feeling of exhilaration and palpable relief!
GHOST STORIES runs at The Lowry, Salford until 22 February 2020.
Lola Maguire leases cars by day and has evolved to live off movies, books, gin and sarcasm; probably the best cheese eater in the world. Guitarist and singer in a band, co-creator of two kids, currently writes for Frankly My Dear.