October 10, 2010

Ghost Stories

Promos for this play are all over the place in London, and because I love scary stories, I definitely made time to see this. Ghost Stories is touted as one of the scariest experiences you can have on the West End, with under-15s and those with a delicate health condition being discouraged from watching.

Upon entering the theater, you're greeted with a venue completely done up in everything horror houses are made of, with strange numbers scrawled on the walls and dim, flickering lights. You can tell that a lot of people were affected by the surroundings, and many of them were already squealing as they made their way to their seats. The noise level of the chatter prior to the show rose considerably, and you just know that it's all due to people's nervousness and anticipation of the play. Call it nervous energy, and they certainly let it loose with screams and gasps of shock throughout the play.

Ghost Stories has three main tales to tell: a night watchman encountering unusual goings-on during his rounds, a teenage boy and his broken-down car in the middle of a forest, and a businessman awaiting the birth of his child. As an obedient theatergoer, I won't give away too much of the rest of the play, but I have to say the fourth story has to be the most unsettling one.

So is it truly a West End frightfest? People seem divided on that matter, with some stating that it delivered too many predictable, cheap frights and others saying they were unable to sleep after seeing it. I thought it was enjoyable enough, but I couldn't call it a success, since it didn't cause me to dwell on any particular points of the play afterward. I also have a beef with the opening music, as it was quite loud and startling, and I like my horror music quiet and atmospheric. It's like the whole venue was screaming at the audience, "YES THIS IS A HORROR PLAY! SCREAM, BITCHES, AND WET YOUR PANTS." One thing I have to say, however, is that it made me re-realize that whatever ugly things we have in our past, and even our present, far outstrips the supernatural when it comes to haunting us.

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