Tag Archives: Scott Penrose

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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Review of Awful Auntie – 5 Stars


Awful Auntie

Richmond Theatre

Reviewed – 2nd November 2017



“The creative team have worked their magic to such an incredibly high standard”


Whether you are six or ninety-six, I can guarantee that the hilarity of this show will appeal to everyone. David Walliams, with his impressive career as a writer and comic actor (who can forget his first number one best seller ‘Gangsta Granny’? Or his TV co-creations ‘Little Britain’ and ‘Come Fly With Me?’) delivers this wonderful story which is adapted for the stage by Neal Foster (actor, writer and creator of The Birmingham Stage Company). I knew I was in for a treat!

It is a story of a young, recently orphaned girl Stella (Georgina Leonidas). Having survived a car accident in which both her parents were killed, her Aunt Alberta (Timothy Speyer) decides to take care of her and the family estate. How kind and responsible, you might think – but things are not what they seem. As the story unfolds, it appears that Aunt Alberta has stretched the truth and well, completely lied about most of it. Realising that she is in danger, Stella does what anyone would do; befriends a friendly ghost, avoids a terrifyingly large owl and climbs up the chimney, on more than one occasion.

Timothy Speyer brought the house down. His portrayal of Aunt Alberta was both funny but equally terrifying at the same time. From his screechy high-pitched wailings to his ability to rock a matching jacket/knickerbocker combo, it’s safe to say we counted ourselves lucky that we weren’t the ones locked in that tower under Alberta’s care. I have to say, my favourite character however, was the elderly and bonkers character of Gibbon, the butler (Richard James) who never failed to present the audience with a veil of absurdity. 

The creative team have worked their magic to such an incredibly high standard. The use of puppets in the production, directed by Roman Stefanski (Polka Theatre, Wimbledon and creator of touring puppet shows ‘Charlie and Lola’ and ‘Sarah and Duck’) brings Wagner the owl to life and we are also treated to a scene that turns all of our characters into puppets!

Jacqueline Trousdale, the set and costume designer for the Birmingham Stage Company, has brought so many great things together for ‘Awful Auntie’. From the set, comprising of individual turrets that are spun around to reveal the inside of Saxby Manor, to the chimney sweep uniform of Soot, our friendly ghost.

The show highlights the fabulous work that goes into a production and is inspiring for theatre-goers of all ages. Such an entertaining spectacle – I want to see it again!

Reviewed by Stephanie Legg

Photography by Mark Douet


Awful Auntie Tickets at ,



is touring the UK until July 2018



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