As mentioned in last week’s blog post, Ghost walks and Stories and pig heads. Oh my Jeremy Dyson and Andy Nyman’s massively, hugely, other superlatives-ly acclaimed Ghost Stories comes to The Lowry this Tuesday 18 February and lurks until Saturday 22 February.
Details of the show are understandably shrouded in mystery, in order for audiences to get maximum enjoyment, a’la Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap (shh please don’t divulge, I’ve still not see it!).
And so it was a cryptic but lovely meeting with Jeremy Dyson ahead of the show – me careful not to ask too many of the details, him careful not to say.
As a punter hoovering up as much horror and dark comedy as I can, I’ve always thought that it must be incredibly difficult for some to get the genre right, without straying in to a diluted version of either, or coming out the other side with pure parody, such as the Scream anthology (no offence Scream anthology).
Therefore, as one quarter of The League of Gentlemen, four writers who lead the way in this genre (in addition to Andy Nyman, of course), I was keen to ask Jeremy Dyson a little about the writing process. What comes first, the horror or the comedy? He explained…
‘It’s not actually thought about in that way. The comedy emerges quite naturally; I’ve always thought that and horror go quite naturally together and something we bonded over as friends.
For myself and Andy, one of our absolute touchstones for Ghost Stories is the film, An American Werewolf in London, which came out during the year we first met each other. It’s a brilliant film, one loved by a lot of people of our age and generation, and a brilliant piece of writing too. As you say, it’s not a parody, it’s a proper story.
It’s in the way you can take sharp left turns between a scary moment and a funny moment, and vice versa. That can be very entertaining for an audience as you don’t know what to expect.’
Fresh off the back of our Ghost Walk around the Quays (fresh being the word, I still hadn’t thawed out), I was also interested in how much of a ‘horror tourist’ Jeremy was.
Under my own morbid belt includes the house and street where the original ‘Hallowe’en’ was filmed in LA, and, of course, Hadfield – the living, breathing location transformed into Royston Vasey, home to The League of Gentlemen. He had. And then some…
‘A few years ago, I went to Transylvania for a travel piece I was writing about the real route taken by the fictional Dracula.
We brilliantly met this guy who claimed to be the real Count Dracula. His family came from Transylvanian Royalty who had fled the area from the nazis. He’d come back to reclaim his birthright and due to his family having since made a lot of money, he was able to return and basically buy this village, ancestral castle and all!
But the best part was getting a carriage, just like Jonathan Harker, up the Carpathian Pass, where the castle sat on the top.
Halfway up we saw this shepherd sat on his own and he may as well have been from the Middle Ages! The whole thing was creepy but brilliant.’
But back to the matter in hand, having seen the film Ghost Stories, I was nervous (and not just because of the official warning of ‘extreme shock and tension). Had I already spoiled my own theatre-going experience? How similar to the film is the theatre production?
‘It’s a completely different experience and very different tonally, for a start. Whereas the film has a very melancholy air to it, the stage show is a lot more energetic.
The great thing about the theatre is that it’s happening before your very eyes which is a very magical thing.
Whereas in the film everything must be literal, you have to have everything pinned down and know what it looks like, part of the magic of theatre is the audience contributes to and becomes an important part of the atmosphere…’
I await my part in proceedings with both excitement and extreme trepidation.
See you on the other side…
Ghost Stories opens at the Lowry on Tuesday 18 February until this Saturday 22 February. For all details including tickets, please visit https://thelowry.com/whats-on/ghost-stories/