Created by the company
Silver Cloud Studio, Hillington, Glasgow
I don’t think I have been quite as excited to go and see a theatrical “event” as I was this night. Partly due to the fact that I am a complete scaredy cat, I wondered how I might find an event that was designed to scare you. I can report that I survived. I can add that I got scared.
I decided to go straight to the out-of-town venue rather than taking the handy bus from the Tron, and found myself one of 17 gathered excitedly together in the sight of our Visible Fictions guide to be given the scaredy cat talk and warning—I decided to brave it and go in. With cautious optimism, I saw that we were a gathering of a diverse and wide-ranging crew—God help the ghosties...
Taken to where the haunted house was situated, round the corner from our mustering point, we were introduced to our actor guide, Natalie, a paranormal investigator, who was actually the deputy of this ghost hunt, not the boss, who was keen not to have us in, but desperate to show the whole thing off—it was an effective conceit.
The premise behind Ghosthunter is that this old house has seen its final resident die, leaving it to a son. That son has brought in the paranormal investigators because things are going bump in the night. He believes that there is a malignant spirit haunting his father’s old house and he wants to get to the bottom of it all. The reason as to why he is not here to greet us is that he has taken a bit of a turn—the son is elderly himself—and the unseen investigative boss has taken him away to hospital. It is a constant part of the event that we are kept up to date by the telephone calls from the boss, during which we have to maintain a silence in case our guide and deputy, Natalie, gets “found out”—because remember we are not supposed to be there.
But before we get to the intrigue, Natalie, attempting to establish a rapport, helps us get a leader “elected” in the way that Derren Brown will help you to freely choose a card. it was a constant suspicion that this leader was in on it, though by the end of it, I was less sure of that, so if they were—bleeding brilliant. Our guide, Natalie, was fantastic throughout. Partly haphazard blundering and overly anxious detective and partly concerned and rousing force of positive energy, she managed to engage us all, give us all jobs, send people out on missions where we were stuck in the base room and others went out in the dark to search for clues.
It meandered like a haunted locked room mystery as the enthusiasm of our team, 17, are guided through a corridor and into a base room, a living room filled with the technical garb associated with such paranormal investigations. Natalie has guided us from a photograph in the hall with only men in it, to a family of four, mother, father and two sons, as tragedy after tragedy unfolds and hypothesis follows guesswork and discoveries are spilt onto a communal table, which makes the whole damn thing fascinating.
It was here that it really got into its stride. People were brought into the fold with mini tasks which meant groups of four—four times—went off to the study or the kitchen or a bedroom, following ruptures through which a spirit would enter our realm. Whilst we could hear them through a “communicator”, their screams when things happened penetrated the set! It was an effective way of keeping us up to speed. We were also lucky in having a fully on-board team who got right into the spirit—pardon the pun—of it all. Especially the young team of four boys who were enthusiastic in their Marlowe-like dedication to finding out... “the truth…”
And it was out there.
It was here, however, where I got a little lost. In amongst the meanderings, I am unsure of what crime dad was guilty—if one at all, given the drastic action he took. Perhaps this was our fault or mine—for not paying enough attention.
It was also a triumph of theatrical artistry and trickery. Selling the product can be tough, but when the sounds, the set, props and interactive set work so well and with the degree of simplicity, that shows you get a lot of effective banging for a decent team of bucks. The detail in the rooms, which you get to see in the light after the show, is exemplary. The lights may have been off, and nobody may have been home, but from stuffed squirrels to seriously jaded wallpaper and period toy boxes and games, this had care and attention to detail.
But this was a fantastic piece of theatricality. Being taken out of my comfort zone and shoving me in amongst a haunted house with a task, a team and a terror worked beautifully. The hairs on my arms rose because the pace was measured, Natalie managed to maintain our engagement and when the frights happened, they were not horror but scares.
It was sheer genius and let this be the continuation of theatre emerging from a pandemic to remind us of why that piece of communal joy, experienced in a darkened room collectively, is to be celebrated—even if that darkened room might unexpectedly shake you by your hand!
Reviewer: Donald C Stewart