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John Yap

Review: GHOST STORIES at The Ambassadors Theatre

Ghost Stories Nine years after its premiere at the Lyric Hammersmith Theatre in 2010, GHOST STORIES returns to London for the fourth time (Duke of York Theatre 2010, Arts Theatre 2014, Lyric Hammersmith Theatre again 2019). A movie was made in the midst of an International tour from Moscow to Shanghai via Lima, Sydney and Toronto. As the main character, Professor Goodman, asks the audience at the start of the show, “Why did you come to see this play?”. Why indeed, but they do.

Jeremy Dyson and Andy Nyman, the authors of the play tap into the fact that since time immemorial, we all like nothing more than some ghost stories to entertain and scare us simultaneously. They have written an 80 minutes lecture that guides us through the history of ghost stories with three illustrative examples.

Simon Lipkin is quite engaging as the lecturer, Professor Goodman, and through no fault of his, we are always aware that we are watching an actor rather than a lecturer. The same is true with the other characters that are in the three stories. The language in play is too theatrical and not natural enough to take us out of the theatre and into our own subconscious.

The first story is about a night watchman in a large warehouse, Tony Matthews played by Garry Cooper, who encountered some strange noises and visions. The second story is about a teenager, Simon Rifkind, played by Preston Nyman who is trapped in his broken down car in the middle of nowhere in the dead of night. The last story is about Poltergeist activities in the nursery of an imminent birth of the baby of businessman, Mike Priddle played by Richard Sutton.

The special effects by Scott Penrose and the soundscape by Nick Manning are quite effective but predictable. Still they managed to deliver their shocking moments when needed. As directed by the authors and Sean Holmes, the production adequately delivered the shocks but not the scares. The production is more like a roller coaster ride, taking our anticipations and expectations up the slope slowly and then suddenly shocking and thrilling us with the plunge from the top for a moment.

The audience on the night appeared to be full of young people who seemed to have enjoyed themselves screaming and grabbing on to each other at the appropriate moments. The authors may have actually written the perfect “date” play for young couples.

Ghost Stories tickets