Ahead of their performance in the Great Hall on Tue 12 December, we caught up with the duo behind the final theatre production of our Autumn season. Adam Robinson (AR) storyteller and writer and Ben Styles (BS) musician and composer give the lowdown on haunted castles and ghost stories at Christmas time.
Tickets for The Book of Darkness and Light are on sale here.
What’s the creepiest ghost story you’ve ever heard?
BS: Sandi Toksvig tells a story about recording a radio programme in an old house, and hearing a disembodied voice whispering something that sounds like “I died”. This was captured on the recording and I’ve heard it – it was one of the few times I’ve genuinely felt my skin crawl.
AR: I’m going to go fictional. I always come back to M.R. James. I’ve read and heard ‘A Warning to the Curious’ dozens of times, but I still find it effective and unbelievably creepy. I recently read a story by Algeronon Blackwood, too, called ‘The Kit-Bag’. That’s a real chiller. My new favourite, I’d say.
Why do people like ghost stories at Christmas time?
AR: There’s something cosy about listening to ghost stories, isn’t there? It feels somehow ancient, I think – a real connection with the past. The idea of gathering together to hear chilling tales when you’re safe and warm indoors, well, there’s nothing like it. It’s a huge part of my Christmas.
BS: I think in winter, with long, cold, dark nights, people want to conquer their instinctive fear of the unknown by shaping it into a narrative that contains the danger. Having someone else do that for them is even better.
AR: And we’re happy to oblige…
Which haunted place would you most like to overnight?
BS: I bet Buckingham Palace has a few ghosts…
AR: Chillingham Castle looks like a good place to visit. And for a haunted castle, it has the best name. I’m a bit of a sceptic, actually, which sometimes surprises people. It’s not that I categorically don’t believe – I just have lots of questions. But, I’d love to see a ghost – I really would. And I love to hear ‘true’ ghost stories. People often come and tell us them after the performances. It’s such an exciting part of touring.
Why should we come and see your show?
BS: Everyone tells us that they enjoy it immensely.
AR: We’ve collected comments from audiences up and down the country and the warmth for the show is overwhelming – we’re so grateful. I think something about The Book of Darkness & Light really captures peoples’ imaginations. A woman in Lancaster said “It was like you were telling to story to me and me alone.” I love that. If we can capture that intimate atmosphere, we’ve done our jobs, I think.
Ghost of the past, present or future who would you like to be visited by?
AR: Such a hard question! But sticking to the topic I’m going to say M.R. James. It’d be amazing to have Monty tell one of his masterful tales.
BS: It would be useful to be visited by a ghost from the future who can tell us where it all went wrong and how to avoid it!
Where can people find out more about The Book of Darkness & Light?
Book tickets for The Book of Darkness and Light on Tuesday 12 December here.