Ghost Stories

GHOST Stories is a modern scarefest, but it does have something in common with Agatha Christie’s classic whodunit, The Mousetrap. Despite long runs in the theatre, audiences tend to keep the secrets of both.

The Mousetrap has run for the best part of seven decades, but most theatre-goers never spill the beans on the culprit to those who haven’t seen the play.

Something nightmarish is about to happen to a caretaker in Ghost Stories

Audiences for Ghost Stories – which is coming to Woking next week – have shown the same loyalty. Despite having premiered a decade ago and been adapted as a film, the secrets that make it such an unusual and successful show have remained elusive and well-guarded.

“Secrets are precious,” explains the show’s co-creator, Andy Nyman. “If you give people a secret that they really enjoy and you ask them nicely to keep it, they do.”

If anyone should know about secrets, it’s Nyman. Before writing Ghost Stories, he was the man behind many of Derren Brown’s mystery-filled stage shows and early TV performances.

The secretiveness with Ghost Stories, he says, was born out of frustration that, these days, “everything is spoiled for you”.

“Every single film and television trailer ruins plot points,” he adds. “I love the experience of telling people a really good story without them knowing anything about it in advance. You feel the buzz in the audience – it’s an exciting thing to sit and watch.”

So what can we say about Ghost Stories?

Nyman explains: “Ghost Stories is a 90-minute scary, thrill-ride experience about a professor of parapsychology who investigates three cases. That’s as much as you get and that’s more than we ever used to give.”

If you push him a little harder, he’ll tell you: “It’s a rattling hour and a half that will make you roar with laughter, leap out of your seats and talk about it for a very long time.”

And that’s really all you need to know about the specifics of the show. People who have seen it say it will make you scream like a banshee and giggle like a schoolchild, probably at the same time.

But stage horror is not a genre you see very often, even after the success of The Woman in Black.

“I think it’s hard to do well,” says co-writer Jeremy Dyson. “You have to have a love both for theatre and for horror. It’s a bit like comedy. People talk about comedy writers having funny bones. I think you need scary bones to write horror.”

Nyman adds: “I think snobbery plays a real part in it too. When I was growing up, we’d come to the West End and there was always a good old thriller on, be it Corpse!, Deathtrap or Sleuth. Those stage thrillers have completely gone out of fashion.

“There’s a section of the audience that’s completely ignored by plays – a thriller audience that would never dream of going to a play because it’s seen as ‘clever stuff for clever people’. That’s not to say we think we’ve created this brilliant play for that audience, we’ve just written the play that we wanted to see.”

Ghost Stories will be at the New Victoria Theatre in Woking from Tuesday until Saturday next week, 28 January to 1 February.

For the full story get the 23 January edition of the News & Mail

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