By Molly Govus
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
NO SPOILERS ARE INCLUDED IN THIS REVIEW
Jeremy Dyson and Andy Nyman’s production of ‘Ghost Stories’ has been touring around the globe since February 2010, but this in no way means the performance has lost its fear factor. With a running time of 80 minutes and no interval, before I even sat down in my seat I had an overwhelming sense of unease. The play’s brilliant sense of ambiguity is highlighted through their marketing of the performance, with no production photographs available to the public. All I knew before entering the New Theatre was that it had a 15+ age rating and a warning that once entering the theatre, you are not allowed to leave again. As much as this may sound trivial to some, this combination of performance and real life created a blurred boundary between what is real and what is not. The audience are quite literally stuck within and between the anticipatory fears of our own minds that Professor Goodman (played by Joshua Higgott) emphasises at the start of the performance.
Professor Goodman’s narration of the stories that remain most prominent to him within his profession echo the fiction that we all have heard as children, but with a combination of science and recordings, we are transported and transcended into the supernatural realm to an extent that hasn’t been explored before. The use of a podium and microphone brings a false sense of security to the audience. There were many times where I forgot that I was watching a play, with my friend consistently reminding me that ‘they’re just actors, Molly’.
I surprised myself (and others after a few jumps) at how scared and on-edge I was throughout the play. It was as though every sense of reason and every smidge of empirical knowledge I had had been left at the front door. I felt exposed to my own fears and I really was made to feel like the ‘percipient’ that Professor Goodman described.
Now, you may be wondering why there is a lack of plot and storyline discussion within this review. To expose too much would be to destroy the sense of the unknown and the ambiguity that this play thrives on. As a viewer of the performance, it is within my duty to ‘keep the secrets of Ghost Stories’ to myself – a polite and considerable ask after having clammy hands for 80 minutes. The play was overall amazingly put together with such precision and intelligence. The intricacy of the plot was unlike anything I had ever seen in any performance.
Trust me when I say that the storyline and plot will stay ticking in your mind forever, and you may even have your own ghost story by the end of it. Sometimes you really do have to see to believe!