To demonstrate the brilliance of this show: after I saw it, I couldn’t sleep until 3 am. When I felt a draught in the middle of the night, I made the perfectly logical leap that it was a melancholy spirit haunting the halls of Roseberry and breathing down my neck.
Jeremy Dyson and Andy Nyman’s Ghost Stories opened in 2010, having been revived at the West End this year following world tours and productions. It is a spectacular treat, tightening its grip on the audience with every eerie sound and quick glance at a face in the dark. First, we are introduced to Phillip Goodman (Simon Lipkin), a lecturer of parapsychology, who narrates the stories of three people: an elderly man on the graveyard shift, an irresponsible teenager, and a workaholic trader. The show unfolds as the three characters, along with the audience, are terrorised by supernatural experiences. The disquiet is maintained until the end, and plenty is foreshadowed beforehand. However, I will reveal no more of the plot or the fate of our characters, as it would spoil the twists of the narrative.
Ghost Stories has a compelling structure: Goodman in his sterile lecture theatre is the voice of reason and science, constantly juxtaposed with the spectre of the supernatural. The show oscillates between a false sense of security and frightening climaxes. The stage and set are particularly effective, transforming with incredible visual effects for every story. In particular, the sound design is the hero – unsettling and piercing – with the strongest hold over the audience’s emotions.
Ghost Stories proves that theatre is the best medium to generate terror — its reliance on the imagination is a strength, along with its meticulous control over the atmosphere. It also celebrates the genre of horror: it’s not just about thrill-seeking or relying on an empty stereotype of horror films as the bloody, gory, and grotesque. The play revels in the fact that, regardless of our belief in the supernatural, the appeal of being frightened will always remain.
To conclude- it was a wonderful experience. I 10/10 would yelp and crush my unsuspecting friend’s fingers again.