Theatre review: Revenge of the Grand Guignol at the Courtyard Theatre

Hollywood special effects have nothing on this stage show’s ghoulish offering

Counter-intuitive though it may seem in an era where movies offer jaw-dropping, gore-splattered, multi-million pound special effects, the humble theatre can often provide the biggest scares of all.

And the success of ghoulish plays such as The Woman in Black and Ghost Stories show that audiences appreciate things up-close and personal when they go bump in the night.

Having sat through both of the aforementioned fright-fests, I can attest to them being completely terrifying. After watching Revenge of the Grand Guignol, I would place it in the same bracket.

Revenge is basically four short plays in one, all of which are chilling and one that is frankly blood-curdling.


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The Laboratory of Hallucinations is an eerie tale of a mad scientist and his beleaguered wife locked away in an institution in the highlands. As Ye Sow is the story of an elderly man haunted by a deadly secret, and stood out from the rest in terms of sheer dread.

Hero is a horrific little anecdote in which an unfaithful boyfriend is forced to see the ultimate consequences of his actions. Finally, The Blind Women is a disturbing portrayal of ostracism and violence in the factories of wartime Britain.

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There is a sense of creeping unease throughout the whole performance, punctuated occasionally by heart-stopping shocks. Not everyone’s cup of tea, granted, but great for a horror buff like myself.

What better way is there to spend the spookiest weekend of the year than scared out of your wits in a fringe theatre? Absolutely none in my book.

* Revenge of the Grand Guignol is showing at the Courtyard Theatre, in Bowling Green Walk, N1, until Sunday, November 27.

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