How much can a play affect you… surely not enough to really frighten you? That’s what I thought before going to see Ghost Stories and The Woman in Black recently. These shows claim to be the “scariest” currently on in London… and both succeeded in scaring me, but in different ways.
The Woman in Black is currently celebrating its 21st year in London’s West End; the rather dingy building and dangerously intimate Fortune Theatre has become its home. The performance combines theatrical illusion and trickery with a disturbing narrative, scaring even the coolest of hearts.
Ghost Stories was written only recently and is more contemporary in every way. The production feels more like an experiment in fear, presenting archetypal myths and using clever technology to make them come alive. As you take your seat, there is no light or programme sellers to welcome you in, instead the dimly lit Duke of Yorks Theatre is haunted with a soundtrack of drips and rumbles and eerie screeches. There is no interval, which builds up tension and you are warned: if you leave the theatre during the performance you will be unable to return.
What both shows have in common is a real talent for inducing terror through all the senses. Employing mostly sound and sight, but also touch and smell as scare tactics. As for taste, I know I left both theatres with the taste of fear in my mouth.
More spooky shows to see in London:
- Phantom of the Opera: a masked man haunts the Paris Opera House in this well-loved musical
- Wicked: the tale of the Wicked Witch of the West
- Deathtrap: this onstage thriller plots the ideal murder and cuts close to the bone
- Alice Cooper: the grandaddy of shock rock comes to London’s Roundhouse for Halloween
- Terror 2010: Death and Resurrection: four scary short plays
Halloween is only a week away, so book your tickets to London’s scariest shows now!