Ghost Stories – Duke Of Yorks

There is always a danger when a show’s publicity machine has ramped up the hype to such a level that expectations will not be met. Ghost Stories advertising material boldly carries a health warning about the show’s extreme terror and advises those of a nervous disposition to stay away. This pre-show tension is further enhanced on arrival at the theatre with walls covered in plastic, house lights replaced by flickering inspection lamps and an eerie soundtrack playing.

A lot of expectation to live up to then and sadly the show turns out to be a bit of a damp squib.

It would be a shame to reveal too much plot wise less it spoils it for any future audience members and indeed the audience are asked not to reveal the shows secrets. In truth it would be hard to reveal any secrets as any real shock moments are so few and far between. Suffice to say the show is structured around a lecture on the paranormal with a Professor recounting three case studies of the unexplained.

It’s a clever way of drawing the audience in and building up tension waiting for the promised horror to start. Andy Nyman gives an engaging performance and builds a rapport with the audience but the stories themselves tend to come as an anticlimax.

There are some jolts that make the audience jump but these are too isolated to sustain any real menace. There is the obligatory twist at the end that while clever, somehow leaves one feeling cheated.

There is a good concept buried here, and as a method of getting a younger audience into theatre perhaps one that should be encouraged, but as a piece of horror theatre it ultimately fails. To be truly effective the show needs to be more subtle with images and sounds barely registering to play on the audience’s subconscious.

An overheard comment from a fellow audience member on the way out perhaps sums it up best “I’ve been more scared and seen better effects on a cheap fairground Ghost Train ride”. Deeply disappointing.

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