Billed as “a truly terrifying theatrical experience”, Ghost Stories comes to the West End following a sell-out season at the Lyric Hammersmith. Ghost Stories is written by two men who need no introduction in the arena of the dark and macabre: The League of Gentlemen's Jeremy Dyson and Andy Nyman, who is best known as co-creator and director of Derren Brown’s television and stage shows.
The play is narrated by Andy Nyman in his role as Professor Philip Goodman, an expert in parapsychology and a sceptic at heart. He begins by essentially debunking the idea of paranormal phenomena but then intriguingly introduces the idea that not everything is as it may seem. As he gives a mock lecture to the audience, he explains that in twenty years of professional experience, he has come across only three cases that have been different enough to warrant his attention. These are the cases that disturb him and keep him up at night. I won’t spoil the play for you by telling you about the three cases, but I can tell you there was a lot of screaming, squealing, and hiding behind partners on the part of the audience. It is certainly not advisable to hold a drink in your hands whilst watching the show.
One of the best aspects of the show was the design. I had already noticed the dismembered leg in the foyer of the theatre and the main arena was transformed from a stately old theatre into a horror house of sorts. There was police tape and cob-webbed gas lamps to give a truly eerie experience, and the overall effect was completed by the seemingly random numbers chalked onto the walls. The stage had a creepy veil as a curtain which had “safety curtain” painted on it in red paint and green, slimy paint was on the stage itself. The set design was really good too with distorted, angular rooms, creepy forests, and corridors of old asylum cells to set the general tone of fear.