Tag Archives: Joshua Higgott

Ghost Stories


Theatre Royal Brighton & UK Tour

Ghost Stories

Ghost Stories

Theatre Royal Brighton

Reviewed – 11th February 2020



“a well-oiled piece of theatrical machinery, which can be trusted to generate the audience reaction it was created to produce”


Ghost Stories is something of a theatrical phenomenon. Premiering at the Liverpool Playhouse in 2010, it has since toured extensively in the UK and across the globe, and was also, in 2017, turned into a film. Unusually, the play’s publicity campaign does not employ production shots, and critics and audience alike are asked to ‘keep the secrets of Ghost Stories‘, in order to ensure that new audiences are alive to the show’s surprises. As a publicity tactic, this can only be admired, and it has clearly played a big part in this production’s success. The pre-show buzz had a very particular energy in Brighton last night, and it was clear that there were a lot of horror fans in the audience. As the play’s chief protagonist states in the play’s opening: for the most part, people come to this kind of show to play a game with fear. It is a very particular type of sensory titillation. On this front, it seemed the show did not disappoint. There were certainly gasps and screams aplenty throughout, and they pretty much happened on cue, in terms of the theatrical techniques employed to produce them.

Broadly speaking, this is a production that operates on two levels – the naturalistic, and that of heightened horror. If each of these speak to you equally, you are in for a treat; if, like this reviewer, you favour one mode significantly over the other, the likelihood is that you will find the show tonally uneven and ultimately somewhat frustrating. There is some very good acting to be seen here – Joshua Higgott as Professor Goodman and Paul Hawkyard as Tony Matthews give particularly detailed performances, and there is strong work too from Richard Sutton – and writers Jeremy Dyson and Andy Nyman have come up with a neat narrative structure that works effectively. The design team too – Jon Bausor, James Farncombe (Lighting) and Nick Manning (Sound) – have created a slick and atmospheric series of worlds within a world. Scott Penrose’s special effects are a massive part of the show, but again, are a potentially divisive element. To this reviewer, there were elements that smacked rather too much of a fairground ghost train, and took away from the real fear generated by the power of the acting and the narrative itself, but plenty of audience members seemed to have their experience enhanced by these moments.

In essence, Ghost Stories is a well-oiled piece of theatrical machinery, which can be trusted to generate the audience reaction it was created to produce. There are shocks aplenty, but ultimately it is a formulaic genre piece – albeit quite a clever one – and therefore actually very unsurprising.


Reviewed by Rebecca Crankshaw


Ghost Stories

Ghost Stories

Theatre Royal Brighton until 15th February then UK tour continues


Previously reviewed at this venue:
This is Elvis | ★★★ | July 2018
Salad Days | ★★★ | September 2018
Rocky Horror Show | ★★★★ | December 2018
Benidorm Live! | ★★★★ | February 2019
Noughts And Crosses | ★★ | March 2019
Rotterdam | ★★★★ | April 2019
The Girl on the Train | ★★ | June 2019
Hair The Musical | ★★★ | July 2019
Peter Pan Goes Wrong! | ★★★★★ | November 2019


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VAULT Festival



The Vaults

Reviewed – 15th February 2019



“She has brilliant comic timing, delivering throwaway lines with deadpan naivety”


The lives of teenage girls are prime material for writers. But, try as they might, thirty-nine-year-old Michael and fifty-year-old Carol can’t quite capture what it really means to be a teenager in the 21st century. Unlike most, writer/performer Emma Pritchard has an innate understanding of how young women think and feel. With its blend of empathy, urgency, and humour, her play Armour captures their complexity perfectly.

Fourteen-year-old Susie has been abandoned. First it was her dad, who left and took the freezer with him. Then it was her sister, Jess, who moved in with her weird boyfriend. Finally, it was her sense of security. She’s the new girl in a Catholic school where everyone seems superficial; though shy, she is desperate to impress and will go to any lengths to do so. But Susie’s a strong girl, and she copes pretty well – until disaster strikes. Her mum gets a perm.

Pritchard has created a remarkably authentic teenage voice. Susie is intelligent and, at times, poetic, but never pretentious. She thinks of her sister, not while staring wistfully at the stars, but while waiting for her tea to cool down. Attention from a boy leaves her ‘glowing inside like a microwave’. Pritchard is not blinded by the need to impress with clever writing; she is committed to telling this story as honestly as possible. Ironically, this makes the play cleverer and more insightful than it could have hoped to have been otherwise.

As a performer, she illuminates the many sides of Susie’s personality with equal care and attention. She has brilliant comic timing, delivering throwaway lines with deadpan naivety. As the story develops, this same naivety is used to evoke sympathy for Susie as she falls deeper into the trap of her own lies. Pritchard eschews frantic stage pacing and broad gestures, resulting in a consistently controlled and believable performance. Many scenes take place on a yellow changing room bench, her school bag and hockey gear resting against it. It serves as a reminder that this is the story of an innocent young woman who, despite her abundant strength, should not have to use it.

Armour is a play that has been brought to life with great care and attention. Its wit and honesty make it both a highly watchable piece of theatre and a moving portrait of teenage life in all its tragicomedy.


Reviewed by Harriet Corke


Vault Festival 2019


Part of VAULT Festival 2019




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