I’ve always loved a good ghost story. When I was a child in Thessaloniki, just across the street from our apartment block there was a big empty field about the size of a stadium. Soon after, it would fall victim to modernisation and transform into another big apartment block, of those cement cubicles promising ”better living conditions and unprecedented comfort”. But I was fortunate to enjoy it as my playground, albeit briefly. Crossing the street was easy and safe; cars were few and far between. We were basically growing up in the streets and our imagination was running wild.
On one corner of this field, surrounded by a small courtyard with overgrown weeds and a single big lilac bush that was blooming in spring, its blossoms carrying their divine intoxicating aroma all over the neighbourhood, sat an abandoned house. It was derelict. Its roof was rotting and partly collapsing. It was perfect. The epicenter of stories about bizarre creeks, eerie whispers and strange noises, enough to trigger our little explorers’ imagination. We called it the Haunted House. It was luring us in its mysterious depths and we answered the call eagerly, climbing through broken windows, feeling bold in unison. We sat in the dusk, taking turns in inventing chilling stories and calling the spirits. The slightest creak was giving us goosebumps and our nervous laughs betrayed an anxious tremble. We were not afraid of ghosts – or weren’t we…
Fast forward to March 2014. Great Newport Street, London. The Arts Theatre. We enter the dark auditorium slowly, cautiously. An ambient sound, its monotony broken only by sudden rattles and eerie whispers, is following us everywhere. There are nervous giggles all around and a sense of excitement, reminding me of the haunted house of my childhood. The safety curtain lifts off and for the next 80, seat-gripping, creepily exciting minutes the stories unfold. Masterminded and directed by The League of Gentlemen’s Jeremy Dyson, and Andy Nyman, co-creator and director of Derren Brown’s television and stage shows, ”Ghost Stories” is a thrilling and genuinely entertaining performance, funny and scary in equal measure. Writing anything more about it would destroy the element of surprise and take away half the fun; suffice to say that if an intense experience and some serious back-of-the-neck hair-raising is what excites the little child in you that refuses to grow up, look no further.
”Ghost Stories” will keep spooking unaware audiences until 17 August 2014.
You have been warned!
WOMAN YOU MAKE ME A MAN
223 x 150cm, charcoal paper, 2011 (private collection)
oil on canvas, 1900 (Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow, Russia)
6-7 Great Newport St, London
Viewed on 23 March 2014