Tuesday, April 23

2:22 A Ghost Story – Wolverhampton Grand

We should have known Danny Robin’s career would have led him up the cemetery path towards the dark side of the racks when one of his first forays into entertainment was the kids tv show, Young Dracula. The signs were all there. We should have sought the help of a vampire slayer when we had the chance, but no. Danny grew into an adult with a penchant for the paranormal, a weakness for the weird, a taste for the terrifying and an urge for the uncanny. As a young stand-up he may have died many times, but in the afterlife, he seems to have reincarnated himself as a presenter of the hauntingly addictive and truly unsettling TV and radio reality series, “Uncanny”. Those of us who hid behind a cushion as each ghostly tale throttled our imagination will approach this play with trepidation, angst and a little bit of apprehension for here lies the danger – in the theatre there’s no off switch!!

2:22 A Ghost Story premiered at the Noel Coward theatre in London’s glittering West End (an area not without its fair share of spooky goings-on both on and off stage) in August 2021 where it garnered all sorts of Olivier nominations, awards and What’s On wotists. Suffice to say everyone daring to set foot into the theatre in the West End came away unsettled, shocked, spooked, chilled and entertained. And in Los Angeles and Australia and Singapore and Prague, but what would the hardy folk of Wolverhampton make of it? Read on… if you dare!

Well, it turns out Danny Robins is no George Bernard Shaw though I doubt George Bernard Shaw could do a ten-minute set at Jongleurs, Camden so it’s swings and roundabouts. Some of the dialogue is pedestrian but it bounces along merrily with a carefree abandon occasionally disrupted by the obligatory early stage shocks which, as all horror aficionados know, amount to very little so soon. Or do they??

Robin unfurls his bundle of thriller chiller tropes – frightened baby? Tick! Crucifix? Tick! Screaming animals? Ticks? A simmering, lingering feeling of distrust, anguish and mounting dread? Tick, tick, tick! They’re all there, but it’s a joy to see so many devices we know and love but on this occasion live not on screen.

Vera Chok, Jay McGuiness, George Rainsford, Fiona Wade handle their characters admirably and what could easily become a one note piece ebbs and flows deftly and engagingly. Each has their moment to shine under Matthew Dunster and Isabel Marr’s direction. Special note to Chris Fisher for some unsettling, subliminal sounds, too.

The play is full of deliciously eerie moments with a surprising twist at the end which I’m under oath not to tell you, but it really works. Go see. If you can’t take a friend, take a cushion to hide behind, instead!

Reviewer: Peter Kinnock

Reviewed: 20th February 2024

North West End UK Rating:

Rating: 3 out of 5.