Have a horror-ble time at the Customs House!

Published: 2 October 2018

South Shields Customs House announces a series of scary plays for the Hallowe’en period between October and the beginning of November.

9 October sees the return of Rumpus Theatre Company, which visits the venue every year with a scary tale. This year’s offering is The Devil’s Bride, based on the gothic horror novel by Victorian writer Sheridan le Fanu. The play, adapted by Richard Layton, tells the story of aspiring 17th century painter Godfried Schalken who seeks an apprenticeship with famous artist Gerard Douw—and falls in love with his niece, Rose.

But Douw achieved his fame by making a pact with the Devil and, when Gerard attempts to wed Rose, his evil rival returns to claim his prize...

Then on Wednesday 24 October at 1:30 and 6:00, Hocus Panto, based on the Disney classic Hocus Pocus, comes to the theatre, full of magical illusions, pop songs and things that go bump in the night.

Next, from 21 October to 3 November, the Customs House and Northumberland Theatre Company (NTC) have joined together to produce Dracula: The Travesty, written by Stewart Howson with additional material by David John Hopper.

“It is exactly what the original meaning of the word travesty was,” says Howson, “a comedic send up of a serious piece.”

Joining Hopper (Dracula) on stage will be BBC Radio Newcastle presenter and one half of The Mimic Men, Alfie Joey, and newcomer Sophie Catleugh. The three will play 20 characters in total.

The final show of the short spooky season is Edith in the Dark, written by South Shields writer Philip Meeks (who spoke to us about it for the BTG podcast in 2015), on 7 November. Produced by Baroque Theatre Company and directed by Adam Morley, the Customs House performance will be part of its first national tour.

The play is based on the little-known ghost stories by poet and writer E Nesbit, author of some of the most famous children’s stories ever written, including Five Children and It, The Phoenix and the Carpet and The Railway Children.

"Little is known of her adult ghost stories or her own life,” said Morley. “This chilling production will certainly provide audiences with some shock moments and surprising twists. Be ready!”

Peter Lathan