Baronial Hall, Winter Gardens, Blackpool


Someone could die during the making of this show, comedy quartet Spymonkey solemnly warn.

If they do, heaven forfend, it will probably be with a broad smile on their face.

There are worse ways to go for sure, than dying with laughter at one of the thoroughly anarchic productions by this internationally-recognised theatre company. And since one audience member fainted during the first of 10 performances here they may well feel the warning is partly vindicated.

Spookshow could be seen as a send-up of one of those TV ghost hunt programmes, except that it is even dafter. It certainly doesn’t stick to a script—always supposing there was one in the first place?

And it’s the carefully-conjured impression that what you are seeing is a totally brand-new performance that is at the heart of what Spymonkey do so well. Only the two techies, manning the sound and light desk in a corner of the Winter Gardens’ Baronial Hall, hint at the forethought behind it all.

Meanwhile the four performers wander off at various ghostly tangents in the near blacked-out splendour of their surroundings. Using back-projected imagery they descend into a mummy’s vault, not forgetting to include a sand dance sequence; bloodily impale themselves, or sever limbs—with audience participation naturally—and wind it all up with an even more horrific Abigail’s Party piece than the original play. Not all of it works, but that is part of its shlock-horror appeal.

The real star of the show has to be the gloriously-kitsch setting which has probably never before been used to such fine effect. Someone would do well to take note of the possibilities.

Spookshow, in turn, is part of the resort’s 10-day Showzam festival, dedicated to circus, magic and new variety—all three of which boxes are firmly ticked by a gloriously gothic entertainment.

Reviewer: David Upton