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Ghost Stories at The Lowry Centre

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by David Keyworth (subscribe)
I’m a freelance journalist and published poet, based in Manchester. keyworthdavid@gmail.com https://uk.linkedin.com/pub/david-keyworth/49/b3a/b83 My debut poetry pamphlet is available at www.wildpressedbooks.com/david-keyworth.html
Event: -
Accidents and emergencies
Suddenly the house lights crash off, as if there's been a power cut.

This is a more abrupt start to a night at the theatre than usual but it is only the first heart-stopping moment of Ghost Stories.

Theatre, Salford Quays, Lowry Centre, Ghost Stories
Ghost Stories Lecturer


Proceedings start in a relatively reassuring manner. Professor Goodman (Joshua Higgott) delivers a lecture with the message that the supernatural is really just hokum. Our minds, he expounds, play tricks on us or we are conned by tricksters or our subconscious rearranges innocent details into images that connect with our deepest fears - a process known as pareidolia.

It is here and now that matters, he insists.

The more Professor - of Parapsychology - Goodman lectures to us, the more we wonder if it is us or himself who he most wants to convince of his academic scepticism.

Having seen the 2017 film (which came seven years after the stage debut of Ghost Stories), I was familiar with the characters - the 'percipients' - and the episodic structure of the drama. In the film, the format of a documentary holds the different strands together. In the play, it is the lecture which serves this purpose.

Also, having seen the film, I reassured myself that the warnings (Are you brave enough to book?) did not really apply to me. This complacency was misplaced. Just when I thought I'd second-guessed where the next shock was coming from the creative team had another trick up their sleeve.

The scares are mainly achieved by drowning the stage in torchlight-darkness, then hiding and revealing hidden props, intruders and attackers. What light there is, on stage, has all the reliability of a faulty fluorescent bulb.

Even if you have seen the film, the ending still looms like a foreboding presence in its own right and there is satisfaction in piecing together the clues that hint at the big and deeply poignant revelation that pulls the different strands together and connects the corridors that the action takes us down.

Theatre, Salford Quays, Lowry Centre, Ghost Stories
Ghost Stories Caretaker


The actors met the challenge of mixing hyperreality and comic energy into their performances, whilst still being believable. I particularly enjoyed Gus Gordon's performance as the teenager, Simon Rifkind, who sounds more panicked the more he tries to calm himself. After all, if we didn't believe in the characters and their capacity for fear, we would not care enough to be really scared.

The play earns more gasps, screams and excited laughter than I remember at the cinema, from an audience, which on the night I was there, seemed to include virtually the whole cast of Coronation Street.

Despite all the horribly thrilling frights on the night, it is the psychological underpinning of the 90 minutes (with no interval) that makes the drama linger in the memory like a clinging phantom. This depth of insight means that the scare-a-minute emphasis of the theatrical version does not turn into just a superior ghost ride.

Is the paranormal real? We are left to make our own minds up. But what Jeremy Dyson and Andy Nyman (who also directs, along with Sean Holmes) remind us is that bullying and casual cruelty have lingering effects. Sometimes, in adult life, the journey to reach the light at the end of the tunnel is harder for each of us than we pretend.

Theatre, Salford Quays, Lowry Centre, Ghost Stories film
Ghost Stories (film). The poster art copyright is believed to belong to the distributor of the film, the publisher of the film or the graphic artist. By Source, Fair use, wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=55676332

"Welcome to 'Ghost Stories' and thank you so much for coming to see us.
Since its first London run, we have turned the show into a film and the play has travelled all over the globe.
It has meant so much to us that critics the world over have kept the plot & secrets of our show when writing about it. We appreciate it makes life a little trickier for you by not divulging plot, but because of your help 'Ghost Stories' remains a rare thing - a modern experience you have to see 'spoiler-free'. Thank you so much for playing along.
We hope you have a great night and maybe even scream a bit.
Sweet dreams
Andy & Jeremy
"

WARNING: Please be advised that 'Ghost Stories' contains moments of extreme shock and tension. We strongly advise those of a nervous disposition to think very seriously before attending.

Age Recommendation: 15


2020 Tour

18- 22 Feb
The Lowry, Salford

25 - 29 Feb
New Theatre, Cardiff

03 - 07 March
The Marlowe Theatre, Canterbury

10 - 14 March
Grand Opera House, York

17 - 21 March
Richmond Theatre

31 March - 04 April
Liverpool Playhouse

07 - 11 April
Theatre Royal, Glasgow

14 - 18 April
King's Theatre, Edinburgh

21 - 25 April
Sheffield Lyceum

28 April - 02 May
NST, Nuffield Southampton Theatres






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Why? A theatrical ghost ride that tunnels psychological depths
When: At Lowry 18 February - 22 February. UK tour until 2 May 2020
Phone: Lowry Centre - 0343 208 6000
Where: Lowry Centre Salford Quays and on tour
Cost: Lowry - from £18.50
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