Ghost Stories is, just as its title suggests, a play about scary stories. But, more than this, it is an exploration of the human psyche. This production does not so much as questions of its audience, rather, it forces its audience to ask questions of themselves… This is where I think the greatest strength of this production lies.
I have stated in the past that the possibility of properly frightening an audience on a live stage is less than that of the screen, due to the limits of what can be hidden from an audience in plain sight. Let me frankly amend that statement, and admit that Ghost Stories succeeds spectacularly at setting just the right tone, and touching all the right nerves to properly scare the living daylights out of its audience.
A production as successful as this relies on more than a single gimmick. All parts of this production, while individually strong, form part of a particularly powerful, composite, whole. The acting from the play’s lead, Stuart Brennan, is a unifying presence throughout the play, and in many ways acts as the medium between this world, and the stage world. Fellow actors, Richard Moss, Matthew Connell and Brian Markey also offer very strong performances. The flaws in each of the characters, that these actors present, are the humanising character components that we as an audience enjoy so much. We feel invested in the lives of characters that we can most easily relate to, and these actors make their characters very relatable indeed.
The stage effects are simply magical… literally. I would expect to see some of the methods employed in this production used to great effect in a magic show. Slight of hand and misdirection are not the trade secrets that they used to be, one likes to think that one knows when something is going to be pulled from a sleeve, or plucked from behind an ear… the trick is to keep you guessing, and keep you guessing they do. Director, Peter Snee, and co-director, Jennifer Sarah Dean, have a history of stage mystery, illusion and interactive horror. The experiences gained in these fields have been applied with spectacular success: from the restrictive lighting to the claustrophobic, almost suffocating, smoke effects.
While there are parts of this play which aren’t perfect, which might have been better left to the imagination, the parts which really matter are absolutely superbly executed… I guarantee that you will be gripping your armrest quite, quite, firmly.
Prince Moo Productions presents
by Jeremy Dyson and Andy Nyman
Director Peter Snee
Venue: Heath Ledger Theatre, WA.
Dates: 21 September – 2 October 2016