Ghost Stories: Is there anybody there…..

…..who agrees with me that Ghost Stories was not scary, not funny, badly written and gauche?

I think I might be a lone critic, as others in the audience were happily whipping themselves into states of play-fear and we, the WVF, Binky and Binky’s-beau sat like the incredulous Grinches at the Christmas party.

The problems began as soon as we sat down.  IMHO Producer and Director should ensure that most of the performance can be seen by all members of the audience.  From the balcony, the apron was invisible.  The frequent, lengthy and dull segues between frighteners,  all took place on the apron, as did some of the character’s monologues, and, crucially, the final ‘event’.  Because of this invisibility the balcony audience, (perhaps the stalls too, I couldn’t see) was  inattentive whenever the action within the proscenium arch ended, and many took the opportunity to tromp up and down to the loo, and get drinks from the bar.  When did large numbers of adults lose the ability to control their bladders?  Or to control their fluid intake?  In front of us a woman sat on her companion’s knee to see better, thus ensuring that those behind her saw even less. And as for the rustling of sweet wrappers – is there an unwritten rule that you must chomp and sip through all cinema/theatre attendances, and every journey whether by car, rail, ship, or plane.  We have become so rude and inconsiderate, (is that tautology?).

Had we been able to see all the action,

I still feel I would have been very disappointed.  I love the genre, both in literature, film and television, and this did pay it’s own kind of homage to the path through the dark, dark, woods trodden previously by the likes of eg. Walter Forde, Herk Harvey, George Romero, William Castle, Walter de la Mare,  Angela Carter, Stephen King,  – but in such a clumsy way, that the scenes felt clichéd and more akin to urban myth than classic chillers. Forget the ambiguity of  The Turn of the Screw, or the psychological complexity  of  Don’t look Now, forget too the atmospheric intensity of M R James or the powerfully implied yet subtly conveyed eerieness of Sheridan Le Fanu.  What you get is the Boo! of the pub joker – you know it’s coming and when it does you jump at the loudness and crudity, not at the innate resonance of primordial, and universal,  fear that the narrator talks of tapping. This is Most Haunted  with pretensions. I wanted to say sssssshhhhh, hush, hush whisper who dares, whistle and I’ll come to you, can you hear someone crying within the walls, are we the audience the seeing or the seen? I wanted to be chilled, not cured of hiccoughs.

I was quite impressed by the scenery and its mechanics, but even there, improvements are needed. A certain spin was laughable (note I am respectfully trying not to spoil).  It all seemed under-edited, sloppy, like a great idea not fully realised, a fanzine made with a John Bull printing set, the product of a drunken Halloween with friends.  I came out itching to rewrite, remodel, recast, redo sound and props, add a scene, and hack away at the segues.The basic idea is worth exploring,  but the execution, at present,  is dreadful (pun intended).

I have to say, with sadness, that this is the worst theatrical performance I have ever seen.


About George

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