REVIEW: GHOST STORIES (Ambassadors Theatre) ★★★★
October 11, 2019  //  By:   //  Plays, Reviews  //  Comments are off

Jeremy Dyson and Andy Nyman’s Ghost Stories opened at the Liverpool Playhouse in 2010 before transferring to the Lyric Hammersmith and Duke of York’s Theatre in London’s West End, where it ran for over a year. The play was so successful, it was re-mounted at the Arts Theatre in February of 2014 running until January 2015. The show then enjoyed international success when it opened at the Sydney Opera House, the Shangahi Modern Theatre and the Pirandello Theatre in Lima in in 2015. In 2017 Dyson and Nyman adapted their play into a feature film starring Nyman, Paul Whitehouse, Alex Lawther and Martin Freeman. Able to reach a whole new audience, Ghost Stories the film received positive reviews. In April of this year, the original creative team reunited to mount the show in its third West End run, once again at the Lyric Hammersmith. Just in time for Halloween, London audiences once again have the chance to be scared-stiff and #keepthesecrets as Ghost Stories transfers to the Ambassadors Theatre, playing until January 2020 before embarking on the shows first UK Tour.

Described as the ultimate twisted love-letter to horror, Ghost Stories revolves around Dr Goodman, a Professor of Parapsychology delivering a lecture on ghost stories. Goodman has collated recorded interviews with three people who claim to have had supernatural experiences and each story is then re-enacted on stage!

In this run, Ghost Stories stars Simon Lipkin (Ghost Stories, Nativity! The Musical, The Wind In The Willows, Miss Atomic Bomb, Assassins, I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change, I Can’t Sing, Rock of Ages, Spamalot and Avenue Q) as Professor Goodman, Garry Cooper (Ghost Stories , The White Devil, The Two Gentlemen of Verona, Henry VI trilogy, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Last Days of Troy and Brassed Off) as Tony Matthews, Preston Nyman (Ghost Stories , George’s Marvellous Medicine and Agatha Christie’s Crooked House) as Simon Rifkind and Richard Sutton (Ghost Stories, The Cow Play , Transmissions, Tall Phoenix, Confusions, Romeo & Juliet and Albert Make Us Laugh) as Mike Priddle.

When entering the theatre, press were given a note form authors Dyson and Nyman welcoming us and asking that we not divulge plot or secrets of the show when reviewing so future audiences can attend Ghost Stories ‘spoiler-free’. In this spirit, I’m able to say the small cast give energetic performances of quite physically demanding parts throughout. With each story more nightmarish than the last, the genius of Ghost Stories lays in the cleverly constructed and written script, design by Jon Baysor, well produced, simple effects by Scott Penrose and frights by Jonathan Holby accompanied by a loud and pumping sound design by Nick Manning, combining to scare the life out of you!

At 80 minutes played through, Ghost Stories is the perfect length so you can retreat to the nearest bar afterwards for a stiff drink to settle your nerves. Like Alfred Hitchcock’s ‘Physco’, a disclaimer accompanies the production, “Please be advised that Ghost Stories contains moments of extreme shock and tension. The show is unsuitable for anyone under the age of 15. We strongly advise those of a nervous disposition to think very seriously before attending.” While a clever marketing campaign, I can attest this disclaimer should not be taken lightly! With enough jump scares to keep the audience on the edge of their seats throughout, the Olivier Award-nominated Ghost Stories really is the scariest show playing in the West End. With Halloween fast approaching, make sure you book to see Ghost Stories at the Ambassadors Theatre now!

Reviewed by Stuart James
Photo: Chris Payne

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