Reviewed by Jayne Knight
So, what can I say about last night’s performance? I went to the theatre with an expectation of being thrilled, scared and left a jittering wreck – none of which happened. Whether this was a result of where I was sitting in the audience (Dress Circle) I don’t know. Anyone sitting front stalls, I assume, should have had a very different experience, being closer to the action.
The ambience of the theatre on entering resembled a half-hearted attempt at Halloween with dimmed lighting, security tape and what appeared to be random numbers written on the billboards that normally adorn the walls. With ‘mood’ music playing in the auditorium and an extra set of lights draped from the front of the upper circle; the stage was set with a lectern. I did not find that this added to the expected spine-tingling anticipation.
We are requested not to give spoilers of the plot, but would advise that due to the production, should you wish to leave the auditorium at any point, you will not be re-admitted. The show also comes with a warning that if you are of a nervous disposition, maybe this isn’t the production for you. My personal opinion is that if you can cope with certain rides at a theme park then you will be no more scared watching Ghost Stories. An advisory age limit of 15+ applies to this production.
There are moments of tension, with shock and surprise elements in this one and a half hour production, but for my companion and myself, despite the fact that the play is billed as nightmarish, we found that we were startled a few times, to the point of laughter rather than the scream fest we were expecting. This is not to say that someone of a more nervous disposition would have the same experience.
Joshua Higgott, Gus Gordon, Paul Hawkyard and Richard Sutton each portrayed their parts of the stories excellently, building up suspense. I can honestly say that I did not foresee the conclusion coming in the way that it did, although the clues were there.
The stagecraft of this production is spot on with sound effects, special effects, lighting and set producing an eerie atmosphere, but for me, the overall effect does not live up to its hype.
My companion, having seen the film, commented that she thought the film version was much better, as some of the links are clearer.
For writers, Jeremy Dyson and Any Nyman, the concept is one that many people will want to explore. Everyone has an opinion on ghosts, ghouls and poltergeists, so if you want to see a show that delves into the paranormal through three different stories then I would advise going with an open mind. Everything is tied together by Professor Goodman, a parapsychologist, as he delivers his lecture, drawing you in, as he explores these theories. Will you come out of the theatre a nervous wreck? I didn’t!
There are two performances on both Friday and Saturday, before Ghost Stories embarks on its tour.
Parking is readily available at New Street, The Mail Box and Arcadia car parks.
Tickets cost from £13 (plus £3.65 transaction fee).
Ghost Stories is at The Alexandra in Birmingham from 8-11 January 2020, for more information or to book tickets visit www.atgtickets.com/birmingham or call the box office on 0844 871 3011.
The Alexandra, Suffolk Queensway, Birmingham, West Midlands, B5 4DS