Because print is still the most engaging advertising channel I am already back at the Lyric Theatre in Hammersmith – Ghost Stories do not allow visitors under 15th, advertises with audience reaction from their “scream cam”, and has therefore been picked by me for a night out in the theatre for a big birthday with friends from Hamburg. Bringing people from abroad (who don’t use their English daily) to the theatre is always a bit of a challenge and I am quite proud when I found something without playing the safe Westend musical card. Ghost Stories played here first in 2010 and since then toured the world – and if it is good enough for the Sydney Opera House it is good enough for us!
Ghost Stories shows us three paranormal experiences, all classified as believable by an ultra-rational professor interviewing people and lecturing on fear. Most of the experiences he comes across are easily identifiable as fakes or hoaxes. We hear the story of a night guard (guilt-ridden for not visiting his daughter in hospital), that of a teenager not having told his parents that he did not pass the driving exam and also that of a businessman whose wife is finally pregnant. All these people are haunted and finally completely terrorised by their bad conscious – we will find out about the professor’s motivation behind his years of research and background as well.
The promotional materials did not promise too much: There is real horror on stage, threateningly loud noises, fog machines, total darkness, shock effects and creepy silence.
From our seats at the Upper Circle, I can see that the stage is hollow, and I am glad that I did not choose the first row even though we are in the first price category – this empty space in front of me would completely freak me out!
As much as I laugh on several occasions, I also grab my mates’ hands to both sides and bring my coat much closer to me. Oh, what a perfect first date this would be. You could even debate afterward if there is a moral: Is it ever too late to turn your life around and confront the past before it confronts you?
I will not give the plots away – the production company ask the audience not to tell anyone after the show – and I happily follow this Mousetrap codex.
Afterwards, my friends gladly confirm that Ghost Stories frightens and shocks even if you do not understand every single word (“It’s scary enough!”). We take our group selfies in front of the #Isurvivedghoststories canvas. The cloakroom clerk wishes us sweet dreams.
The bags under my eyes three nights later are not normal. Falling asleep has become a bit more difficult. I am not sure if I want to see the film now as well.
Ghost Stories – written by Jeremy Dyson and Andy Nyman
***** out of 5 stars
Ghost Stories played at the Lyric Theatre until May and re-runs in the Westend from October to January 2020
Standard ticket (Upper Circle row A) £42.00 each