REVIEW: Jeremy Dyson and Andy Nyman’s Ghost Stories

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Ghost Stories

Review by Rhys Tarling

22.9.2016

Ghost Stories is a lavish, sometimes startling, production. The constant haze of smoke that permeates the stage keeps us as just in the dark as the hapless and lonely victims of the supernatural entities and so their mounting fear matches ours. When they point and scream “the hell is that?!” at some figure lurking in the dark, we are honestly inclined to echo their sentiment with equal fervour. The slow burning tension, enhanced by an eerie ethereal soundtrack and convincing performances, eventually reaches such an intolerable degree that by the time the victims finally come face to face with whatever-the-hell, it’s a relief. If a horror show’s worth can be measured strictly by an audience reaction, then this show is worthwhile. But there’s more to recommend here beyond the base thrill of being terrified.

The set design choices are canny. These people inhabit dirty and gross spaces; an old cluttered dimly lit office, a beat-up car. No gothic architecture or anything generically scary to be found here. These sets are clearly meant to evoke a sort of recognisably mundane awfulness. That, combined with the haze smothering much of the stage, makes it quite easy to buy into the story, and as such, every emotion is amplified. And the methodical pacing allows for a rich experience.

The story written by Jeremy Dyson and Andy Nyman allows for a welcome amount of humour to undercut the tension or, more delightfully cruelly, to gently ease the audience’s guard down only to hit them with something unexpectedly weird or shocking. It’s a delicate balancing act that is successfully pulled off as just about everything seems funnier or scarier than it should be. The tone of the piece is perfect. The story, specifically the final third of it, is where Ghost Stories stumbles a little.

The play is divided into three short pieces. The first two are great, well paced and compelling. The last third was simultaneously overwrought and anaemic. The curiously flat performances didn’t help matters. But Ghost Stories regains its freaky groove during the final ten minutes, whereupon we’re introduced to a monster — the only monster not obfuscated by clever lighting or haze — that is so singular and memorable in its design and performance that it damn near overshadows everything else.

Ghost Stories is a fun time and should be seen by all. Especially you, the Faint Hearted and Easily Scared, because ultimately it’s harmless and you’ll feel the thrill more potently than anybody else.

 

RHYS TARLING

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2 thoughts on “REVIEW: Jeremy Dyson and Andy Nyman’s Ghost Stories

  1. In complete contrast to Rhys Tarling’s review, I fiound that no amount of dry-ice smoke in the theatre could make up for the lack of substance and plot line in Ghost Stories at last night’s Sunday 5pm show.

    Being delayed in the foyer for one hour and ten minutes due to a “technical issue” and then another 15 minute wait once seated in theatre only served to build our anticipation of a slick and enjoyable production for which we paid over $60 per ticket.

    No such luck. The plot was weak, the acting vapid and if we hadn’t waited around for so long to finally be let into the theatre would have definitely walked out part way through.

    Save your money. This is definitely not worth it!

  2. Mike A.
    One word- Dissapointing.
    We had to wait an additional hour due to a technical difficulty, we were advised by a voice over that an update would occur in 5 minutes after the initial hour, that didn’t happen. Due to the lack of vision because of the excessive smoke screen broadcast throughout the theatre combined with minimal lighting it was very hard at times to make out the scenes, the acts of fear from the crowd came because of the excessive volume put over the speakers actually startled the crowd to which the majority voiced their disgust after the so called performance had finished.I agree with Helen, don’t waste your money on this , i actually see it as a crime that they would charge money and not provide the product advertised…..

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