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Tales from Haunted Liverpool

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
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*The following was reviewed at St George's Hall concert room in Liverpool and not the Echo Arena as stated

Heartstopping, goose-bumps, ungodly sounds – no, not the England game (or was it…) but the return of the popular show based on Tom Slemen’s books. And even better than the last one, barely a dud amongst the stories of ghostly goings on. Some of them genuinely are haunting so you may find yourself dwelling on the creepier aspects when trying to get to sleep; don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Not all doom and gloom, the performance was cleverly heightened by some comic touches. Once again, well chosen lighting and excellent music and song played up the atmosphere, even if the sound effects veered between very, very good and badly interfering with dialogue. On occasion, the cast’s voices could be overloud and a bit melodramatic with the odd line fluffed, but otherwise, sterling and versatile work as usual from Stephen Fletcher, Brian Dodd and Jamie Hampson, plus newcomer Lynn Francis, a worthy successor to Jane Hogarth.

They introduced us to some fascinating characters: gangsters and a plucky teenager, a medium and an evil gypsy. We were taken back to the 18th century then, perhaps more frightening, very nearly up to date. And all round Liverpool: Abercrombie Square, The Grapes on Mathew Street, Windsor Street, making it a must for lovers of local history as well as would-be ghostbusters.

To be picky, some of the titles are not altogether enticing, and in the case of ‘Watch the bedbugs don’t bite!’, it sounded like two accounts mashed together, although that was the one where the spooky bit certainly got to me. A couple of others appeared to be not much more than contrivance and coincidence, but in general, the show did what it said on the tin – the one reading ‘Do not open, whatever you do.’

In particular, the stories ending each half, ‘Madam Lalaurie’ and ‘A dance with death’ respectively, were excellent choices, the first being the stuff of nightmares and the latter having a very clever twist. Both were so intriguing, a bit of googling was in order to find out more about them – Lalaurie House, supposedly haunted, was bought by Nicolas Cage.

And raising the dead again in October, so not long to wait for another deadly dose.

-Carole Baldock


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