Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Ghost Stories

*May 7 Update: is offering Ghost Stories tickets at 57% off from now until May 9*

As a big horror movie fan, I was quite intrigued by the initial ads for Ghost Stories, a theatre production currently on stage at the Panasonic. But price (front floors originally started at about $60) and some mixed reviews scared me off of it.

Then offered a 50% discount code (yep, this is play I talk about over in this post) and I decided that $30 (for mid-week shows) was a reasonable price to pay.

According to Ghost Stories’ website, one must “…be advised that Ghost Stories contains moments of extreme shock and tension.” I’ll agree that there are moments of tension but “extreme shock”, that’s a bit much.

Personally, I didn't find this show scary. Entertaining, yes but not scary (though to be fair, I don’t scare easily). However, that’s just me. Many people in the audience were clearly frightened (it was actually kind of funny) and if you’re the kind of person who was freaked by Paranormal Activity, you’ll definitely be freaked by this show.

I know that a lot of people are wondering what this show is all about but really, it doesn’t matter. It starts off with you, the audience, being attendees at a lecturer about ghosts and goes from there. While there is an overall plot, it’s kind of weak, particularly near the end (if you end up seeing it, you’ll know exactly the part I mean).

The writing is definitely the weakest part of this production. While you expect a certain amount of cheese and clichés whenever you’re dealing with ghosts, things are a bit too predictable at some points, while other times it’s too “message” heavy. A bit more subtly could have gone a long way with this show.

But really, I don’t think anyone was at this show to hear words of brilliance. They were there to have fun and maybe get a bit spooked and here the show successes.

In addition to scares, there are also laughs and I have to give full credit to the actors for bringing to life fairly basic characters.

Visually, the show is a good balance between minimalism and flashy effects. The lighting is particularly impressive and at several points I found myself watching the shadows more than the performers. The “shadow work” really added to the spooky atmosphere, as did the soundtrack though at times, it was also a bit cliché.

Ghost Stories runs through May and if you can get tickets at a discounted price (an ad in our programme said tickets were as low as $30), it’s worth going to, assuming you’re OK with an untraditional theatre experience and the possibility of embarrassing yourself in front of a couple hundred strangers (there was one woman near us who kept screaming “Fuck” every few seconds during of the more tense scenes).

I would though be reluctant to pay full price for these tickets. While the show is entertaining, it’s not $70-a-person entertaining and because of the sudden nature of this show, you do want to be seated in either the front half of the floor or balcony, so that you can see what’s happening on stage.

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