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Ghost Stories review at Duke of Yorks Theatre London

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Watching Ghost Stories is a genuinely frightening experience. There are moments when the hairs really do stand up on the neck. It’s funny. It’s gripping. It’s entertaining.

Jeremy Dyson is best known for his co-writing on The League of Gentlemen’s output. Ghost Stories builds on the dark obsessions of their television offerings, but for the most part avoids the macabre, instead creating an air of normality. This, of course, emphasises the horror when it comes.

With Andy Nyman, who works with Derren Brown on his illusions, Dyson has created a well-crafted play. Set as though at a talk by Professor Phillip Goodman (Nyman), a lecturer in the paranormal, the pair go out of their way to create a relaxed, naturalistic air. It’s reminiscent of the way Brown creates an open, friendly atmosphere at his shows. It lulls the audience into a false sense of normality, eventually magnifying the paranormal.

Other common illusionists’ tricks are cleverly used that later emphasise the feeling of disquiet.

A simple structure, three separate ghost stories, follow, all of them set in familiar settings for this type of tale – a depositary that was formerly an asylum, a dark, lonely, misty wood and an empty child’s nursery. Far from being cliched, these recognisable horror story settings, begin chilling the audience before the tales unfold.

Performances are solid, the characters well drawn, and the directors, along with designer Jon Bausor and movement director Lewis Peploe, are inventive with the limited space on the stage – its darkness is a fifth character.

As for the fear factor, Ghost Stories makes The Woman in Black look like Hairspray.

Production Information

Duke of York’s Theatre, London, June 25-November 7

Authors
Jeremy Dyson, Andy Nyman
Directors
Jeremy Dyson, Sean Holmes, Andy Nyman
Producers
Lyric Hammersmith, Phil McIntyre
Cast
Nicholas Burns, David Cardy, Ryan Gage, Andy Nyman
Running time
1hr 20mins

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