Ghost stories, horror tales and things that go bump in the night are a staple for the cinema but the genre is rarely tackled in the theatre. With successful adaptations of The Woman in Black and M.R. James’ scary tales, the creaky doors are opening for exciting new projects to follow suit. ForeverTwentySeven does just that and with panache.
Greeted in The Lowry foyer, the audience are led behind the scenes into the underbelly of the theatre by the flamboyant, expeditious director, Patrick Duffy (Byron Owen). As he leads the tour deeper into the backstage corridors, Duffy dictates facts and figures about the building and the productions that have performed here including the ill-fated production of Twenty Seven. There’s no time to take a breath for him or for the audience as we’re led into the cast’s dressing room. So far, so promenade.
Things start to take a turn for the worse, however, when Duffy is called away and the lights mysteriously go out. Then the disturbing noises begin. We’re not alone. There’s someone in the room, shifting in the dark. A single light flickers on and the troubled leading lady, Maria Whiteside (Jennifer Edwards) stands before us like a ghost. Soon, the other cast members join us - Lily Polletti (Amie Stone) and Kurtis Cowell (Nathan Morris) - with delicious backstage gossip and reasonable concerns for Maria’s welfare.
Be prepared to get involved. There’s no fourth wall here. The performers are skilled at interacting with the audience and quickly, we see the unravelling of a cursed play and its actors.The play never begins and never ends which only adds to the disorientation. There’s never a chance to settle into the performance as we’re ushered from room to room.
Writer/Director Mike Lee should be commended for creating such an ambitious project which could so easily, in less capable hands, be reduced to farce but the chilling effect of ForeverTwentySeven is thrillingly long lasting.