Jeremy Dyson and Andy Nyman’s supernatural spectacular Ghost Stories comes with a very specific warning:
“Please be advised that Ghost Stories contains moments of extreme shock and tension. The show is unsuitable for anyone under the age of 15. We strongly advise those of a nervous disposition to think very seriously before attending.”
And they mean it. They really do.
For Andy and Jeremy, one of the great pleasures of the production lies in watching the audience’s reactions.
“There is great joy in watching the audiences jumping out of their seats,” Andy says, “and then peeping through their fingers and then the next minute they are laughing.”
The show is on its first national tour with dates including Theatre Royal Brighton from February 11-15 – a chance to enter a nightmarish world, full of thrilling twists and turns, where all your deepest fears and most disturbing thoughts are imagined live on stage in “the ultimate twisted love-letter to horror.”
“But it really isn’t for people of a nervous disposition,” Andy stresses. “There is no mistaking there are some nasty scares. It is important to us that people don’t just go along thinking it is going to be fun. It is fun and there are funny moments, but there are also very scary moments. But the great thing is that it really resonates with people. They have a great night at the theatre.”
As Andy sees it, it’s a show which taps into something very deep about us as human beings: “We are obsessed with ghost stories, and why we are obsessed with ghost stories is something that the play deals with. And I think we are obsessed with ghost stories because we want to prod what we are scared of. It is part of who we are, how we are programmed. Please God, most of the time we have very safe lives, but one of the things we love to do is to get as close as we can to the things that scare us because it rejuvenates us – the roller-coaster or the bungee jump. We like to touch danger as much as we can because we know that it is safe, but there is just something about getting close to it that gives us a frisson, reminds us we are alive. But I think the other part (of our fascination with ghost stories) is because we are all obsessed with death, with the inevitability of it, with the fact that there is no escape.”
And in that context, there is an odd reassurance to ghost stories, however much they might frighten us. The point is that if ghosts exist, then life clearly continues in some form or another: “If they are real, then the implications of that are wonderful.”
As for the show itself, inevitably it is difficult to say too much for fear of giving too much away.
“But there is a version that we can talk about, and that is all that we can say: that is about a professor of parapsychology who looking into three cases, and these are the three cases that you see…. And that is as much as I can tell you.
“One of the joys is that this has been going now for a decade. It has been seen all over the world. This is the first national tour, but there has been the film as well, and the film has been seen by millions of people. But incredibly if you want to know what it is all about, the only way to find out is to go and see it.”
Very much in the great Mousetrap tradition, audiences are encouraged to keep the secret: “And it is amazing that so many people have done. And I think that reflects the fact that they have had a great time. If they hadn’t had a great time, they would come out and say ‘That was rubbish… and this is what it is all about…” But they really don’t, and they really do keep the secret.”
Joshua Higgott plays Professor Goodman, Paul Hawkyard appears as Tony Matthews, and Gus Gordon performs the role of Simon Rifkind.