Before you even step into the auditorium you are aware that the show has a parental advisory – children under the age of 15 are banned from watching it – and anyone who has a nervous disposition are advised against seeing it, as too are pregnant women.
The Liverpool Playhouse has also cranked up the health warnings with more St John’s Ambulance teams readily available than usual at the theatre. Added to all of this is the Playhouse’s own connection to the paranormal and spiritual world, thus it is reportedly haunted and has its own resident ghost called Elizabeth, which the actress Pauline Daniels had once told me about.
Co-writer and co-director Nyman himself makes an appearance in Ghost Stories as Prof Philip Goodman, who fastens the whole play together with a lecture by explaining parapsychology and talks about those ghostly encounters he has researched and found fascinating.
Firstly we get to know about nightwatchman Tony Matthews’ (David Cardy) story – which happened during a security shift – and then there is the story about an 18-year-old called Simon Riftkind (Ryan Gage), who experiences some ghostly encounters in the woods. And also the tale from city suit Mike Priddle, with Nicholas Burns putting in a good performance to explain his story.
Nyman’s and Dyson’s love of the horror genre is clearly evident within the explanation of each encounter, which feature characteristics and ingredients needed to give you that chill.
Without wanting to give away too much of the writers’ tight grip on the play’s plot, characters, sound and other restrictions, Jon Bausor’s dark and eerie set is impressive, whilst other devices used to terrify certainly spook.
Dyson, a creator of The League of Gentlemen, brings elements of the psychological to the production’s writing while Nyman, as well as acting in the show, displays his skills used to create the illusions within Derren Brown’s shows effectively over an hour and twenty minutes.
And my answer to the most asked question is: yes. Ghost Stories is scary. However, don’t let the fuss surrounding the play put you off. Okay, maybe it’s best pregnant women stay clear, but no reports of the use of ambulance teams have yet surfaced.