Ghost Stories is coming the The Lowry in Salford

Things that go bump in the theatre - Ghost Stories comes to The Lowry

Jeremy Dyson and Andy Nyman take their horror play on the road


"It probably started, for me, with Scooby Doo,” says Jeremy Dyson. “There were a lot of scary things for kids around in the Seventies, and lots I was enchanted by.”

Dyson is half of the team behind Ghost Stories, a play that brings those thrills and chills from his childhood right up to date and to The Lowry stage next week.

“Doctor Who would have been a part of it, which in the Seventies had a real horror edge to it. So the groundwork was done by the time I was seven or eight years old.

“People used to buy me collections of ghost stories for my birthdays. They were supposed to be for kids, but they were the most terrifying tales.”

Best known for his work with The League Of Gentlemen, Dyson teamed up with Andy Nyman to create Ghost Stories 10 years ago.

Nyman is, of course, the man behind many of Derren Brown’s mystery-filled stage shows and early TV performances. The pair have been friends since their teens, and bonded over a love of horror.

“It’s a very English genre,” says Dyson. “Certainly when it comes to the supernatural side of things. The English sensibility defined a lot of that. It’s a very English tradition, and there’s no question that’s part of what we’re celebrating in Ghost Stories.”

Stage horror is much harder to do than film and TV scares for obvious reasons, and that’s probably why only one other West End stage is doing it well at the moment. That's at the Fortune Theatre, where The Woman In Black has been playing since 1989.
Andy Nyman and Jeremy Dyson - creators of Ghost Stories

“I think it’s hard to do well,” says Dyson. “You have to have a love both for theatre and for horror. It’s a bit like comedy. People talk about comedy writers having funny bones. I think you need scary bones to write horror.”

“I think snobbery plays a real part in it too,” Nyman adds. “When I was growing up, we’d come to the West End and there was always a good old thriller on, be it Corpse!, Deathtrap or Sleuth.

“Those stage thrillers have completely gone out of fashion. There is a section of the audience that is completely ignored by plays; a thriller audience that would never dream of going to a play because it’s seen as ‘clever stuff for clever people’.

“That’s not to say we think we’ve created this brilliant play for that audience, we’ve just written the play that we wanted to see.”

Dyson and Nyman will not tell us much about what to expect from Ghost Stories, except to say that they’ve spent the 10 years since it premiered in Liverpool refining the experience and tweaking small things to bring the biggest scares to the audience.

 “If people are paying their hard-earned money to see a show you’re putting on, you have a massive responsibility to give them more than they pay for,” says Nyman.

“It’s not fair to think ‘that’s good enough, it will be fine’, you have to over-deliver. You’ve got to lose sleep over it. When the show is up and working and you keep tweaking it to get it right, and you see people going away happy, you know the main reason you’ve got to that place is you’ve felt a responsibility and you’ve worked hard at it.”
Ghost Stories is coming the The Lowry in Salford

And even though it’s been running for 10 years - it visits The Lowry as part of its first UK tour - the show's secrets have been well-kept by audiences.

“Secrets are precious,” says Nyman. “If you give people a secret that they really enjoy and you ask them nicely to keep it, they do.

“These days everything is spoiled for you. Every single film and television trailer ruins plot points.

“Jeremy and I love the experience of telling people a really good story without them knowing anything about it in advance. You feel the buzz in the audience; it’s an exciting thing to sit and watch.”

So, what can they say about what we might expect?

Andy says: “Ghost Stories is a 90-minute scary, thrill-ride experience about a professor of parapsychology who investigates three cases. That’s as much as you get and that’s more than we ever used to give.”

Pressed further he adds: “A rattling hour and a half that will make you roar with laughter, leap out of your seats and talk about it for a very long time.”

Ghost Stories plays at The Lowry from Tuesday to Saturday, February 22