So, do you believe in ghosts?

Director of new play at Park Theatre says it’s more than spooks that haunt us

Friday, 20th August 2021 — By Helen Chapman

When Darkness Falls Will Barton & Alex Phelps. Credit Michael Wharley

Will Barton and Alex Phelps in When Darkness Falls

THE director of a spine­chilling new play says he believes in ghosts – although maybe not like you’ve always imagined them.

Paul Morrissey, who also co-wrote When Darkness Falls which is opening at the Park Theatre in Finsbury Park, said he felt there was a gap in the market for horror stories to be told on stage.

“I think we had a revelation about most ghost plays: there aren’t that many, but with the ones that there are the main question seems to be: do ghosts exist?,” said Mr Morrissey.

“It seems to me now that it is quite clear that ghosts do exist.

“If you were going to say to me, ‘do you believe in ghosts?’, I would be hesitant because I think that we all think it’s a Scooby-Doo ghost running around with a sheet over its head.

“It could be that, I’ve never seen one – but it can be so many other things.

“It can be memories, traumas and things that just stay with us and haunt us. Memories, nightmares, guilt, shame, regret – all these things seem to exist in our psyches as ghosts.”

The Park Theatre

The play’s story follows a local history teacher on the Channel Island of Guernsey and a young writer who has been asked to give a talk on its mysterious folklore.

Actors Will Barton and Alex Phelps have been cast in a double-header.

Mr Morrissey admitted the motivation for him and co-writer James Milton was “to scare people” with the production.

“I love scary stories,” he said. “I love the ones that exist out there, but they are few and far between.

“It’s a genre we both liked but we felt there was a bit of a dearth of actual ghost stories out there.

“Theatre is a very collective experience.

“You’re not sitting at home on your own watching something. When you go to the theatre, you’re going to an actual collective space with other people who are all experiencing the same thing.”

He added: “We just thought how interesting if that thing is a collective scream or a jump or a collective intake of breath and go, oh my God, we did all that together. I find that really interesting.”

“We feel privileged to be able to open the Park Theatre after it had its revamp and it feels nice to start bringing live theatre back.”

A hoard of ghost stories about various locations in Islington have been shared over the years, decades and centuries – including spooky speculation about pubs, train stations, parts of the Whittington Hospital and the old Sessions House in Clerkenwell Green.

When Darkness Falls opens at the Park Theatre on August 28 and runs until September 4.

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