Review: The Ghost Hunter, Old Red Lion

“Do you know what they are, ghost stories? They’re a place to put things you’re too scared to look at any more”

Theatre of the Damned’s self-avowed undertaking is to explore horror and suspense on stage, a challenging mission as demonstrated by last year’s The Horror! The Horror! which only fitfully worked for me but one worth pursuing as this expanded version of The Ghost Hunter, written by Stewart Pringle, proves to be a highly proficient foray into the realm of suspense. And taking over the Old Red Lion theatre pub in Angel, it transforms the space most effectively. 

Alice Saville’s design is simplicity itself, but it shouldn’t be under-estimated how effective stripping the walls of the intimate theatre right back to black, with just a strip of frayed pub carpet up centre on which a table and chair sit, pint of Abbot Ale pride of place. And from these well-worn surroundings, Tom Richards’ Victorian-garbed raconteur Richard Barraclough quickly pulls us into the world of York’s twisting narrow streets like the Shambles and regales us with tales of pale abandoned orphans and other spooky goings-on. Continue reading “Review: The Ghost Hunter, Old Red Lion”

Review: The Horror! The Horror!, Wilton’s Music Hall

“I know what you’re thinking, you’ve seen it all before…”

Much like we all carry our own sense of humour with us, we all too have our own individual fears and dreads. Which means we don’t all find the same things funny (I barely laughed in One Man, Two Guvnors for example) and, as Hallowe’en fast approaches, it makes it difficult to guarantee that something is scary for everyone. A proliferation of shows across London are all determined to send shivers down our spine, but none can have been so initially successful as Theatre of the Damned’s The Horror! The Horror! which sold out its run at Wilton’s Music Hall before it had even started.

As the main hall is being renovated, this Victorian-era promenade show takes place in the shadowy spaces and ramshackle rooms upstairs at Wilton’s and takes the form of a sneak preview of the new season of work from A.S. Brownlow & Company, a group of performers whose acts have all taken something of a gruesome turn. From saucy singers provoking mysterious men to vengeful magicians bitterly resisting the arrival of the future, a cabaret of the grisly and ghastly emerges from the ghosts of the past. And there are puppies. Oh, the puppies. Continue reading “Review: The Horror! The Horror!, Wilton’s Music Hall”