Tag Archives: Andy Nyman

Ghost Stories

Ghost Stories


Ambassadors Theatre & UK Tour

Ghost Stories

Ghost Stories

Ambassadors Theatre

Reviewed – 9th October 2019



“well crafted, and well performed”


Ghost Stories arrives at the Ambassadors Theatre in London’s West End just in time for the season of spooks and all things that go bump in the night. Jeremy Dyson and Andy Nyman’s show, which they wrote and directed, has enjoyed considerable success since it premiered as a co-production with the Lyric Hammersmith and the Liverpool Everyman in 2010, going on to tour around the world, and even becoming a film. The Ambassadors gets into the act right from the moment you enter the foyer, with lots of spooky sound effects and mysterious numbers chalked up on the walls. This theme continues once you take your seat, building up a nice atmosphere with the help of hazard tape and flickering worker lights. Since this is an eighty minute show without an interval, ushers are kind enough to remind the audience that if they leave the auditorium once the show has begun, they cannot be readmitted. It doesn’t hurt the sense of anticipation by making one feel a bit trapped as one sits down.

Dyson and Nyman clearly know their stuff, and how to build suspense. There are a few nods to other classic tales in this genre. Fans of the paranormal will enjoy the way in which the actors set up each story, ably assisted by a flexible set, designed by Jon Bausor, but most of all by the sound and lighting effects (designed by Nick Manning and James Farncombe, with special effects by Scott Penrose). The effects cue each shocking denouement and can be on the loud and bright side, so be warned. Simon Lipkin as Professor Goodman gives a solid performance as the academic whose career has been spent debunking paranormal phenomena. Naturally, Ghost Stories is all about the three cases he can’t explain. Garry Cooper as Tony Matthews, Preston Nyman as Simon Rifkind, and Richard Sutton as Mike Priddle all shine as the hapless protagonists of the three tales that follow. Richard Sutton gives a particularly good performance as loathsome dealmaker Mike Priddle, but all three succeed in upping the creep factor. Despite these strengths, however, so much of the success of this show depends on careful preparation of the audience, and this can feel a bit manipulative. Stories about the paranormal tend to be at their most effective when viewed in a darkened space with no distractions—such as a cinema, or one’s own living room—alone in the house, of course. There’s just a little too much distraction in the Ambassador’s auditorium with the hazard tape and the flickering lights. Fans may find the film version of Ghost Stories gives more bump in the night for your buck than the theatrical production.

But if this is your first experience of a show about the paranormal, you will probably enjoy Ghost Stories. It’s well crafted, and well performed. More experienced connoisseurs may feel that the special effects overpower the storytelling, however, and don’t give the audience’s imagination enough space to heighten the horror. Because isn’t it what we don’t see or hear, and can’t explain, that create the ultimate shocks in a world so ready with easy answers to every question?


Reviewed by Dominica Plummer

Photography by Chris Payne


ATG Tickets

Ghost Stories

Ambassadors Theatre until 4th January then UK tour continues


Previously reviewed at this venue:
The Secret Diary Of Adrian Mole Aged 13¾ – The Musical | ★★★★★ | July 2019


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Fiddler on the Roof (Cast Change)

Playhouse Theatre

Fiddler on the Roof (Cast Change)

Fiddler on the Roof (Cast Change)

Playhouse Theatre

Reviewed – 22nd June 2019



Friedman’s formidable presence is the perfect complement to Tevye; one that no Matchmaker could cap.”


Almost before Trevor Nunn’s “Fiddler on the Roof” opened last December at the Menier Chocolate Factory, it had ‘West End Transfer’ stamped all over it. Three months on from its relocation to the Playhouse Theatre it is still a richly deserved hot ticket. Settling into the larger space, the show has thankfully lost none of the intimacy and passion: there is always the fear of over-projection, but the subtlety and attention to detail of this production is beautifully intact, gently immersing the audience into the small Russian village of Anatevka in 1905.

Designer Robert Jones’ set – a ramshackle Jewish shtetl – spills out into the auditorium; the smokey darkness of the crooked wooden buildings backed by a foreboding bank of bare woodland, yet overlain with folk-tale lanterns and Tim Lutkin’s time-shifting lighting that conjures both the chilly light of an uncertain dawn with heart-warming twilight. A true reflection of the town folk’s stoicism in the face of their impending resettlement. Trevor Nunn has conjured up the perfect mix of mockery and menace in this atmospheric revival.

Based on the stories of one of the most famous and beloved of all Jewish writers; Sholem Aleichem, the story centres on Tevye, a poor Jewish dairyman, forever questioning ‘Tradition’, and the mysterious ways in which God moves. A patriarchal figure, his refusal to bend to the changing times is slowly eroded by the strong-willed actions of his daughters, who rebel against the custom of arranged marriage and choose to marry for love. Although he never quite lets go, Tevye’s grip on his heritage is increasingly fragile. Andy Nyman gives a stunningly natural and captivating performance of this central role. Whilst making light of his plight with precision-timed quips and asides, we are also continuously aware of his fear of the threat of exile and, more poignantly, his love for his wife and daughters.

In its first major cast change since the transfer Maria Friedman takes over as his wife Golde. Friedman’s formidable presence is the perfect complement to Tevye; one that no Matchmaker could cap. Their onstage chemistry evokes the hard-won intimacy built from the ups and downs of a twenty-five-year marriage; culminating in the tender self-realisation of their duet “Do You Love Me?” Friedman again pours the liquid gold of her voice over the achingly angelic “Sunrise, Sunset”, one of the choral highlights. In fact, the entire company do wonderful justice to Jerry Bock’s sumptuous score, with a sensitive, but never sentimental, interpretation of Sheldon Harnick’s lyrics. Molly Osbourne and Nicola Brown as the daughters Tzeitel and Chava are joined by Ellie Mullane impressively stepping in as Hodel. The three sisters give heartfelt performances, accentuating the satire often missed in “Matchmaker, Matchmaker”. The village matchmaker is indeed central to the story, and her role is made more vital by Anita Dobson who takes on the mantle with a thrilling energy, showing us her dab hand at comic timing.

But beneath this musical portrait of family and community is the solemn undercurrent of violence, anti-Semitism and persecution; sadly still all too pertinent. Matt Cole’s choreography, paying homage to Jerome Robbins’ original, shows how rapidly high spirits can descend into oppressed chaos, particularly when a vodka-soaked wedding dance is broken by the arrival of a vicious tsarist pogrom at the close of the first act. A threat that is taken to its tragic conclusion in the final scenes.

The human touch easily sits alongside the disturbing historical commentary. Yet, despite the epic themes, the staging of this production lends real intimacy to a thousand seat venue, and by avoiding the temptation to overplay to the rafters the emotional impact touches the heart with much more force. Its message is clear; but what is equally clear is that this quite simply is still a triumph of a show. Musical theatre at its best. Matchless.


Reviewed by Jonathan Evans

Photography by Johan Persson


Playhouse Theatre

Fiddler on the Roof

Playhouse Theatre until 2nd November


Last ten shows covered by this reviewer:
Elegies For Angels, Punks And Raging Queens | ★★★ | Union Theatre | May 2019
Mycorrhiza | ★★★ | The Space | May 2019
The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button | ★★★★★ | Southwark Playhouse | May 2019
The Talented Mr Ripley | ★★★★ | Wilton’s Music Hall | May 2019
Vincent River | ★★★★ | Trafalgar Studios | May 2019
Pictures Of Dorian Gray (B) | ★★★ | Jermyn Street Theatre | June 2019
The Flies | ★★★ | The Bunker | June 2019
The Importance Of Being Earnest | ★★★★ | Tabard Theatre | June 2019
The Decorative Potential Of Blazing Factories (Film) | ★★★ | The Coronet Theatre | June 2019
Bitter Wheat | ★★★★ | Garrick Theatre | June 2019

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