I don’t usually go in for themed posts, but I’m feeling quite Hallowe’en-y this year. The spooky playlist is on and there’s home-made pumpkin cheesecake setting in the fridge – which I plan to devour later whilst watching The Nightmare Before Christmas.
So, since I’m in the mood, I decided to conjure up (ahahaha) a quick list of theatrical things that have sent shivers up my spine. I haven’t included films, which I’ve probably been scared by more often, but that’s because I’m more inclined to be brave when faced with a scary DVD than with something live which I can’t pause/mute/walk out on!
- Macavity – I was lucky enough not only to go on a school trip to see Cats age 10, but to sit in the front row. I was utterly captivated by the music, the dancing and the dark, secretive atmosphere of the feline den. The moment when this atmosphere is broken by thunder, lightning and the sudden appearance of Macavity on the balcony above the stage made me start in terror and grab my best friend’s hand. (Fun fact: whilst Googling to check the spelling, I discovered that TS Eliot’s villainous cat shares his name with a brand of fire hydrant. Apt, no?)
- Act II of Swan Lake – Ok, so it’s not exactly something I watch through my fingers, but Rothbart’s entrance into the ballroom flanked by his demonic cronies and Tchaikovsky’s dramatic music is truly Hallowe’en worthy. You wonder how Siegfried and the queen didn’t realise straightaway that they were up to no good, but hey.
- Jethro Compton’s Macbeth – This production of Shakespeare’s creepiest tragedy, which I saw at the 2013 Edinburgh Fringe, takes place in a claustrophobic bunker and features gas masks, slamming doors and lots of jumpy bits. It was excellent, but I was quite glad to get out by the end.
- Phantom of the Opera – An obvious one this. I mean, everyone who sees Phantom jumps out of their skin when the organ theme kicks in and the chandelier rises to the ceiling, right? Good. And the Phantom’s sudden appearance at the masquerade ball got you as well, didn’t it? Thought so. There’s just something about dark, empty theatres…
- The Wilis – Interestingly, the veiled army of ghost brides didn’t really scare me the first few times I saw Giselle. But at the ROH earlier this year, something clicked in that moment when they walk in a line towards Hilarion – that simple moment is just so purposeful and threatening. You can understand why the guy throws himself off a cliff.
Brrrr! Hope I haven’t given anyone nightmares!