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Review: Ghost Stories at The Marlowe theatre in Canterbury

'What are you afraid of?' is the question at the start of this show.

Well, in this case I'm afraid I'll accidentally give away spoilers to this long-running production.

A caretaker shares his tale
A caretaker shares his tale

Before the performance the audience is asked not to give away any secrets about what happens throughout, in much the same way as Agatha Christie's long-running The Mousetrap. And this request also extends to reviewers.

How many people believe in ghosts?

Joshua Higgott as Professor Goodman leads the journey of discovery from a lectern, linking a series of atmospheric vignettes in which tensions are ramped up and the scares frequent .

He’s on stage for most of the time, and Higgott is more than equal to the task.

The professor at the lectern
The professor at the lectern

While not a particularly showy performance, he’s the glue that holds all the elements of the production together.

The audience reaction to the frights elicits shrieks and squeals, which swiftly turn to nervous laughter.

The use of light and sound to encourage the audience’s imagination to an overall unnerving effect. Bright lights prove distracting and discombobulating as the terrifying events unfold.

Shifting scenery offered a series of transformations, with clever set design and lighting masking and revealing at the same time creating a gamut of fully-realised but sparsely-populated scenes.

Four out of the five senses are toyed with - sound, sight, feel and even smell are affected to enhance the atmosphere and figures, and scenes are not always quite as they seem.

The end is a delightfully unexpected twist, gently hinted at throughout but carefully hidden until the very last moment.

This show really is frightfully good.

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