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Theatre Review Ghost Stories, Lyric Theatre Hammersmith

Frighteningly good trio of spine-chilling tales

GIVEN the success of Ghost Stories since it first appeared at the Liverpool Playhouse in 2010, it’s surprising that there are so few similar productions haunting the stage these days.

Theatreland, itself ridden with spooky backstage lore, is an ideal environment for the portrayal of creepy goings-on and, on the evidence of this production, ghostly tales also attract that much sought-after younger audience.

The Lyric interior, despite its modern exterior and appearance, is an old venue that has enough of a past to make it a more than worthy host to such a show and there’s no lack of tension throughout, even before proceedings begin.

Spooky sounds emanate from the wings, the ringing of the five-minute bell has an air of deathly foreboding and the pre-show announcement makes everyone jump.

Perhaps the reason for the dearth of such productions is that they’re so difficult to get right. But the Ghost Stories creative team, led by the play’s co-writers and directors Jeremy Dyson and Andy Nyman, are up to the task.

They know how to build up the sense of unease and deftly steer away from the trap of over-relying on technology to produce the desired effect. Much of the trepidation is heightened by the fact that the audience is often unsure of what it has just seen — or not seen.

Built around three eerie tales narrated by a parapsychologist (Simon Lipkin), this is a proper series of ghostly encounters rather than a blood-and-gore horror show, one that generates genuine shivers down the spine rather than a queasy stomach.

There’s even humour scattered throughout and, though there are frequent gasps of fear from the audience, there’s also plenty of nervous laughter.

At 80 minutes with no interval, Ghost Stories is an enthralling, engrossing and other-wordly way to spend an evening away from your troubles.

Runs until May 11, box office: lyric.co.uk

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