Brighton Magazine

The Brighton Magazine

Selected Brighton Magazine Article

Wednesday 12 February 2020

Review: Ghost Stories @ Theatre Royal Brighton Delivers More Than Just The Wow Factor

Since debuting in 2010, the current production of Ghost Stories has played around the world (and even been made into a successful film). This tour of the 2019 revival from the Lyric Hammersmith comes to Theatre Royal Brighton this week, complete with the pre-show warning "Are you brave enough to book?"

As a show which relies on a variety of sensory and theatrical devices to ramp up the tension, not to mention a twisty ending that is thrilling in its audacity, the authors ask reviewers and audiences to "keep the plot and secrets of our show". So no spoilers here.

Needless to say, it features a number of common horror tropes - not to mention some psychological hoopla - the fun begins when you walk into the theatre with spooky and unsettling noises both in the bars and the auditorium. 

With Andy Nyman working with Derren Brown on his shows for 20 years or so, and with special effects helmed by magic circle magician Scott Penrose, these aspects throughout the show (both subtle and unsubtle) work a treat. 

Co-writer Jeremy Dyson was the "silent partner" in The League of Gentlemen, so again this should give a clue as to the sensibility on offer here.

It seems an odd thing to review an audience - but it's worth it in this case. 

Pre-show (to the background of aforesaid noises) a palpable sense of anticipation runs through the theatre - a couple of folks nearby started chatting to me, only to say how scared they were. 

During the show the (no spoilers) jump-scares provoke audible gasps and shrieks, followed by an inevitable nervous laughter. 

The beauty of the writing here is that this build-up and release of tension is both factored in to the story, and allows us to establish a relationship with the narrator as he guides us through his lecture on fear. 

This character, Professor Goodman, ably and beautifully played by Joshua Higgot, anchors the show - when he begins the show with "Ask yourself this. What is it that drew you to this event? If it's to discover what scares you then the answer to that is easy…" he once again racks up the tension. 

Although it's easy to walk away from such a show with just a "wow factor", the subtlety of the writing and understanding of how horror is a game of tease and release is essential, and the show has this understanding in spades.

The remaining 3 characters are played excellently, Gus Gordon, Paul Hawkyard and (returning from the Lyric run) Richard Sutton bring their various characters vividly to life.

This 90-minute show - with no interval - is a straight up fun roller-coaster ride, which is chock full of thrills, and wonderfully played. As a purely theatrical exercise it works, and as a superb entertainment it works.

I heartily recommend it to anyone who likes a good ghost story - and not just for the thrills, but also to see the way the genre has been cleverly deconstructed and put back together for the stage.

Full disclosure, I had previously seen the Lyric production, and I'm still in awe at one particular effect… 

Ghost Stories at Theatre Royal Brighton until Saturday 15th February 2020. CLICK HERE for tickets.

by: Gary Cook




Share    


Brighton's Creature Creature have used their downtime, since sharing festival stages with the likes of Manic Street Preachers and The Hives, by recording their forthcoming debut album, Two Finger Tantrum
Credit Mark Senior

When Once first appeared in cinemas thirteen years ago, a low budget Irish independent film shot with just $160,000, it was one of the more modest premieres of the season. But the story, of a Dublin street busker and a Czech musician whose passion for music sparks a unique love story, quickly took hold of audiences and hasn't let go since.

Hayley Ross lives by the sea in Brighton, grew up in Walton-on- Thames, has spent time in the Caribbean, and is right now renovating a fishing trawler to live on in Newhaven. 
Credit Matt Stronge

Brighton-born stand-up Robin Morgan is a father to his son and a son to his father. But what makes a good male role model? In his new show, which is coming to Komedia Brighton, in April, the comedian is calling out the double standards that set the bar so low to be a 'good dad' and exploring the gender roles forced on our children from conception.
Credit Frederike Wetzels

German Art-Pop band, Giant Rooks are set to arrive in Brighton, this spring, on the back of new single Watershed; a melancholy banger that begins with a reverb laced piano hook before launching in a beautiful slice of angular indie disco.
Credit Robert Day

“The story is about people coming together and how we are stronger together than apart, that's the message,” says author Alex Wheatle, of Crongton Knights, which heads to Theatre Royal Brighton, in March. 

Following on from the recent interview in The Brighton Magazine with ballet superstar and contemporary dance company founder, Carlos Acosta, three of the Acosta Danza dancers speak in the magazine about Evolution, the show that visits Brighton Dome, next month
Credit Johnny Hostile

Best known as the lead singer and co-writer of UK band Savages (whose first gig was as support to British Sea Power in Brighton), Jehnny Beth has spent the band's down time recording her solo album, To Love Is To Live.
Credit Phoebe Fox

We increasingly hear from musicians that music should be an escape these days - that there's enough suffering in the world, enough misery on the news, without writings songs about it too. New album A Billion Heartbeats by Mystery Jets makes all that sound like a bit of a cop-out. 
Credit Katy Cummings

Scottish arena rockers Twin Atlantic are back with new album Power - and it's arrived with a dramatic shift in style and tone.

“How do you make people laugh in such unstable, unpredictable times?”, the comedian Stewart Lee asks.  Well, he should know! Last year, after three decades in the business, The Times called him the 'world's greatest living stand-up'. 

Ahead of Stephen Daldry's seminal production of JB Priestley's classic thriller An Inspector Calls, which heads to Theatre Royal Brighton, later this month, The Brighton Magazine features an enlightening chat with Christine Kavanagh, who plays 'Mrs Birling'.
Credit Jamie MacMillian

The acclaimed British and Ethiopian poet, playwright, broadcaster and speaker, Lemn Sissay MBE has launched Brighton Festival 2020 welcoming everyone to the Imagine Nation from 2 to 24 May 2020. 


In The Brighton Magazine Robert Daws, star of The Royal, Roger Roger and Outside Edge, talks about returning to the stage in Alan Ayckbourn's committee comedy Ten Times Table, at Theatre Royal Brighton.

Archive search

Search our archives for what's on and gone for the best of this city's theatre music comedy news and much more...







Organising a conference or event in Brighton?
See our Brighton Conference section.
Brighton web design by ...ntd