In Haunt

On a blustery Friday night, Haunt Manchester writer Emily Jackson arrived at Salford Quays for a truly unique experience… a ghost walk of the area, led by acclaimed guide Jonathon Schofield. This immersive group event seemed atmospherically apt – especially given the news that Andy Nyman and Jeremy Dyson’s thrilling show Ghost Stories runs at The Lowry from the 18-22 February, part of a UK tour. Following the ghost walk, there was also the exciting opportunity to meet Jeremy Dyson himself. Emily Jackson reveals more…

Ghost Stories

I arrived for a ghost walk at Salford Quays on the eve of Storm Ciara, which was a blisteringly cold and windy night by all standards and set the tone perfectly for the evening ahead. Our group were gathered to enjoy an evening of storytelling featuring some of the more well-known and favourite tales of our guide, Jonathan Schofield. The walk lasted just over an hour, looping around the Quays and over bridges until returning to our starting destination at the Lowry Theatre - where we were to speak with Ghost Stories writer co-writer Jeremy Dyson.

During the ghost walk, we were provided with a healthy amount of ghost tales to whet our appetites, along with a good deal of factual and historical background as well. For example, the walk began with Jonathan detailing the downfall of Bonny Prince Charlie, specifically noting how he passed through Manchester and attempted to raise soldiers for his army. It was here that the first ghost story of the night was told, that of the tragic love story of Jamie Dawson and his fiancée. Always a good way to start an evening of ghostly tales is one that features star-crossed lovers divided by death, and so I found this to be a great start to the walk. The historical background information may have felt a little lengthy, but this was cleverly interspersed with stories, with more to come…

I found the most interesting story to be that of Lavinia Robinson – involving a bridge over the canal… under which she was found many years before. The story of her being trapped in frozen ice for weeks on end - while the icy wind whistled around us - was particularly chilling, and it felt as though the ghost itself might make an appearance for us. It was particularly atmosphericwhen at the very mention of Lavinia, the wind dropped completely, as though just saying her name would call her into our presence. For me, this moment was the pinnacle of the evening, as it felt as though the elements themselves were working to entertain us alongside our guide.

It was unfortunate that due to the weather conditions of the approaching storm, the last scene of the walk took place inside the less eerie (but much more comfortable) Lowry Mall! This was an apt decision however, as it certainly was cold beside The Quays! The story of a famed opera singer was last to be told to us, as it had the air of a celebrity scandal written all over it as well as a tragedy to coincide. Our guide Jonathan promised our group that there would be a rather haunting surprise at this point, should we find ourselves in need of a good scare! Rather than give any clues… I would recommend anyone considering attend one of Jonathan Schofield’s ghost walks for themselves. (Pictured below - from left to right: Jeremy Dyson and Andy Nyman)

Jeremy and Andy

By the time we reached the conclusion of the walk, I found myself excited for the Q&A we were to take part in with Jeremy Dyson – a brilliant opportunity. It was during our roundtable discussion that I found him to be as much of a fan of classic horror as myself, which was unsurprising considering his own works in horror stage and cinema. He noted there was a range of films and literature that has influenced his work in many different ways, though I would like to highlight the show’s apparent parallels with Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap, another stage production that encourages audiences never to reveal the secrets of its plot nor the final ending of the show. Ghost Stories does the same thing, and I feel this is a fitting nod to classic stage productions as it shows how heavily the audiences’ role in the production is key to its success.

Dyson also discussed how comedy and horror are interwoven together in Ghost Stories, not taking itself too seriously but never at risk of becoming a farce. He said he felt it was important that it was there, and I cannot but help agree - as there is often comedy to be found even in the darkest of times. It was this mention of the blending of comedy and horror in Ghost Stories that made me really wish to go and see the show for myself.

 I knew nothing about the show before going to attend the ghost walk or the Q&A, but I left feeling excited to know more and to witness for myself this spectacle I was promised. Ultimately, I couldn’t help but be drawn to the idea of a show having the audience become as much a part of the production itself as any other member of cast or crew.

Become part of it and see for yourself, as Ghost Stories runs at The Lowry on 18-22 February 2020, part of a UK tour.

By Emily Jackson

Images provided with thanks to The Lowry 

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3 Comments

Comments

  1. Kate Walker
    This has really whetted my appetite
    Thanks Emily Jackson
  2. Dawn
    Wow you make it sound so exciting.Loved to have seen the play,especially if it has an Agatha Christie feel whom I adore.
  3. Egg Head
    Brilliant piece Milly. Makes me want to go to the Quays an a dark cold night and wander around. Just not in my own!

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