New Theatre, Cardiff
Tue 25 Feb
I’m a wimp. I watch horror films through my fingers and won’t go upstairs without the light on. So, being “locked in” the New Theatre’s auditorium to listen to creepy tales sent shivers down my spine before the doors even closed. “There is nothing to fear but fear itself,” they say, and the thrill is always in the anticipation. Once it became clear that nothing was going to jump out from the empty rows behind, I began to relax and focus on the lecture taking place onstage. Mild-mannered Professor Goodman (Joshua Higgott, who appeared in Bohemian Rhapsody) is a parapsychologist exploring the idea of perception and, for the first 15 minutes, I doubted that this award-winning “supernatural edge-of-your-seat theatrical experience” would produce any real scares at all. But things were just warming up, and as the plot thickened so did the atmosphere…
Looking back now from the comfort of my sofa, I can see how cleverly orchestrated this show was. Throughout the 90 minutes, the tension continued to rise as events played out – and I must admit there were parts I missed because I was too scared to look. There were some lighter moments that gave a little respite and the balance between humour and horror was spot-on. Paul Hawkyard, Gus Gordon and Richard Sutton gave impeccable and captivating performances as the silent witnesses and all I’m allowed to say about the storyline is that there’s a twist and it’s a good one.
It’s unusual for a play to come with a warning but patrons of a nervous disposition are advised to think “very seriously” before attending, and this is definitely not a child-friendly affair. We weren’t really “locked in”, of course; leaving is an option, but if you do leave there is no readmittance. Plus there isn’t an interval so think twice about having a drink beforehand!
It takes great skill to write and execute a topic as subjective as the paranormal but Jeremy Dyson and Andy Nyman have excelled and this is a theatrical experience like no other. The only way to find out what makes the play so unique is to buy a ticket – but when you come out, shaking in your boots, remember to “keep the secrets of Ghost Stories” and tell no one what you’ve seen.
words LYNDA NASH
Ghost Stories is at the New Theatre, Cardiff until Sat 29 Feb. Tickets and info can be found here.