As I get older I realise that I probably fall into the category of those with a nervous disposition. I think the mathematical formulae for being this way is:
Control Freak + Over Active Imagination = Easily Terrified
A prime example of this being a few months back when I was living alone in the flat for 3 months and spent the majority of nights sleeping curled on the sofa clutching a kitchen knife, yknow, just in case. But just because I am naturally twitchy and squirmy around all things scary, doesn’t mean I don’t love it. [As demonstrated when I went Ghost Hunting recently!] Obviously I don’t love being awake at 4am because I think I can hear a ghost baby crying in my wardrobe (!) but safer, controlled scary things like movies, books and tv shows I am all for. I think fear is an itch that everyone loves to scratch, but then starts to regret when you’re later laying in bed replaying scary moments and cold sweating.
I’ve actually always been a fan of all things scary from a really young age. I think it’s because both my maternal and paternal grandparents had a collection of phenomenal ghost stories, and out of every story they would regale me with – it was the ones that made goosebumps cover my arms and my spine tingle that I’d beg for over and over. I supposed that as influencers and carers, they should have been reassuring me that ghosts and things that go bump in the night are aload of guff… but I’m grateful they didn’t as those stories are the ones I repeat again to family and friends even now. My sister is three years older than me, and while other girls our age were reading Babysitters Club and Sweet Valley High we were building up the worlds largest collection of Point Horror books and counting down the hours to Michael Aspels Strange But True (oh god! the credits!)
Can you remember the first time you felt real fear? I can remember mine. There was an independent video shop (the type of which I imagine are almost completely extinct now) that my mum would take us to on a Saturday after swimming, to get a film for that evening. The video shop was called 2001 Videos – HOW scary that ‘2001’ seemed so far in the distant future and as if when it eventually was 2001 we’d be living in space and driving hover cars. Anyway, tangent ahoy, at 2001 Videos we religiously stuck to the kids and cartoons section, occasionally browsing the general releases. At the back by the counter there was the Horror aisle and my sister would always dare me to walk up it. I think I was about 6 when I finally took the bait and waited for my mum to be distracted before taking a deep breath and stepping hesitantly towards the word HORROR. There were two video boxes in particular that were SO frightening, so horrifying and so unlike anything I’d ever seen that they shook me to the core. They were Childs Play and Hellraiser
No matter that we eventually left the shop (with something nice like Care Bears) and that I was back in the comfort of my family home, the fact that I had those terrifying images burnt into my retinas meant I just couldn’t relax and I had nightmares for weeks. From a bloody VHS box! Not even watching the film!
Anyway this is all a bit of a build up to the fact that last week I went to see the INCREDIBLE Ghost Stories at the Duke of York Theatre. The play is written by Andy Nyman – co-creator and director of Derren Brown’s television and stage shows and Jeremy Dyson – League Of Gentleman genius. Their aim in creating Ghost Stories was to bring back some of the classic Victoriana theatre going experience; something creepy, haunting and that could raise a blood curdling scream.
Before going to see Ghost Stories I had avoided reading or googling anything about it (and you should too! Which is also why I promise I wont go into any depth about the content) and so really had no idea what to expect. Approaching the theatre absolutely covered in goading signs saying “Just keep telling yourself its only a show”, “Pant-Wettingly Scary” and “NOT suitable for those with a nervous disposition” (Oh, hi!) I was starting to feel the churn of fear in my belly before I’d even entered. Everything about the theatre experience is designed to put you at un-ease from the second you walk in; from the decor, the darkness of the circle as you find your seat and the well to hell sound effects playing as you sit waiting for it to begin.
I think that Ghost Stories is possibly one of the best pieces of theatre I have seen in my entire life. I just cannot beg you hard enough that you have to go and see it while it’s still running. It will certainly make you scream, question everything and immediately want to book tickets to see it again. (I did, sad!) The acting, set and intricate story are just mindblowing. Just when you think you know what is going on, you realise you have no idea! You are constantly lulled in false senses of security before embarrassing yourself by jumping ten feet in the air and screaming in the face of the person next to you.
Five stars, go see it, go book it now.