Paul Kemp. Photo by Dab Wooller
A conundrum: why do we put ourselves into scary situations? Why do we sit in the dark on a cold February evening with a growling, grumbling and ominous sound design edging us ever closer to being manipulated through camp comedy? All this in the absolute knowledge that we are about to be scared witless! Well, who knows? But we do and we love it.
The palpable atmosphere at the Arts Theatre last night was fuelled with trepidation and very giggly nervous excitement. As each ghost story unfolded there was a sense of ‘They will not get me this time’. But ‘get me’ they did. It would be unfair and unwise to tell the stories here or, indeed, to even point to each ghoulish climax (we were asked to keep the secrets of Ghost Stories to ourselves so that others may ‘enjoy’ what we have witnessed)
Philip Whitchurch. Photo by Dab Wooller
I can say that the four Ghost Stories are framed around a lecture given by an obsessive professor in a dry factual account of the tales he has heard in his consulting room and over the decades, pursuing the paranormal, the unexplained, the ‘other side’ and the fear that lay within us all. A fear we also get a rush from and seek to tap into again and again.
Well, the show, jointly written by Andy Nyman and Jeremy Dyson, the producers, director, designers and very fine cast certainly tapped into our fears. Through laughter they majestically open up the emotional receptor just in time to turn it on its head and pump us full of fear-into shock, leaving so many in the audience breathless at being ‘caught out’ and then very quickly laughing at one’s self and then others for being so silly.
A wonderful cocktail of camp Hammer Horror and gorgeous modern day gore!