Photo by Charles Alexander.
a fun, provocative and at times genuinely scary experience.
Billed as not suitable for anyone under 15, this Australian realisation of a West End show that first made an appearance in 2010, is a fun, provocative and at times genuinely scary experience that does its best to present phantasmagorical events within the confines and limitations of a theatre.
Ghost Stories starts off innocently enough with a series of slides that includes numbers (these are replicated within the walls of the Athenaeum itself) whose import will only be explained at the end of the show.
Steve Rodgers is at the lectern playing the avuncular Professor Goodman, a researcher into all manner of extraordinary happenings that can’t be explained by the usual laws of science and reasoning.
After portentously setting the scene, Goodman introduces his case studies, three ‘percipients’ who have each encountered the paranormal.
Laga’aia’s character is a matter-of-fact nightwatchman doing his rounds. Brown is a nervy student on his drive home from a party. Simpson-Deeks is a pompous businessman waiting for the birth of his first child. All have little in common, except that each has borne witness to some kind of supernatural spectre.
All combine to make the audience titter nervously, scream or jolt in their seats.
This is where all the tropes of horror and ghost stories come together: a lone spotlight wavering uncertainly in the dark; poltergeist mischief; shadows and mist; things that go bump in the night and eerie music. All combine to make the audience titter nervously, scream or jolt in their seats.
The tension builds slowly, crescendoing to a jump scare in each of the three tales. Kudos to the production team for their attention to detail: the set, sound and lighting design are brilliantly conceived. With no interval, it’s a tightly narrated piece of theatre that titillates and shocks.
There is a twist at the end, which offers another way of looking at what we’ve been presented with earlier and promises an even more troubling possibility involving Goodman, but this is one of those shows that needs to be seen without too much explanatory context.
ARE YOU BRAVE ENOUGH TO BOOK?
MELBOURNE at the Athenaeum Theatre: https://bit.ly/GhostStoriesMEL
NOW PLAYING until Nov 5
ADELAIDE at the Dunstan Playhouse: https://bit.ly/GhostStoriesADL
From Dec 7
Quotes and excerpts taken from: Theatre review: Ghost Stories, published on 2 Oct 2022. Read the full article on ArtsHub.