Ghost Storyteller, what a tempting proposition of a play for Christmas; the macabre a great foil to the festive jolliness and good cheer.
Sadly Ghost Storyteller didn't live up our expectations. Writer and performer Robert Crighton's rambling introduction in the kindly donated play copy set the tone for the whole experience. This was an examination of what makes ghosts exist and why we love them (in imitation, perhaps, a bit too ambitiously of the recent, brilliant Ghost Stories at the Lyric), children's story-telling and cynical jokes. This weird mixture left the focus lost and with it, the audience.
The joke-telling felt like being on a bad date. Not really joke-telling, but more a dry and cynical take on life and ghosts, which most times left us feeling obliged to laugh to fill the awkward silence. The children's story / ghost story about the child Molly, whose hamster comes back to haunt her, was baffling. Mainly because we were left wondering: was this meant to be funny, or scary, or simply a child’s story?
On the plus side, Crighton is a naturally gifted story teller, with presence, and a steeliness to his glare. Staged in the creepy cellar venue of Barons Court with people in the pub upstairs making atmospheric creaks and muffled murmerings, it could have been the perfect setting for a ghost story. Crighton's Ghost Storyteller seems too clever by half. However, no matter how intelligent or which way you twist the formula of the traditional ghost story, the audience should be scared. And we weren't.
Robert Crighton's The Fantasy Terrorist Variations follows Ghost Storyteller. The two plays are on at The Curtain Up Theatre, 28a Comeragh Road, Barons Court, London, W14 9HR until 6 January, tickets £12 (£10 concessions).