"Go back! Leave! Why have you come?" Will Seaward asks in a booming voice, as the door closes behind you. What have you let yourself in for, why is there a warning about ectoplasm, and what was this storytelling comedian doing in Homebase? All good questions, but don't worry; as you laugh your way through the next 50 minutes everything will become clear.
Welcome to the witching hour in the Gilded Balloon’s Wee Room, where this very self-aware though decidedly un-scary show plays out. Filled with the most ridiculous and improbable descriptions, and aided by fantastic sound effects courtesy of the audience, these comic tales consistently surprise and amuse. We’re all encouraged to join in, contributing spooky noises and undergoing tests of "seaworthiness" (a prerequisite to hearing a ghost story, it seems). Even Seaward’s occasional mistakes and mishaps help to engage the crowd.
The stories are not strong in plot, and do sometimes lose their way - at times the comedy depends entirely on the audience laughing in surprise. But the performance is polished and well-thought-out, and with imagery "so thick it has Victorian gentlemen gathered around sipping it with spoons", you have no choice but to laugh along. After all, the charm and humour of storytelling lies more in the journey than the destination.
I’d been struggling to stave off sleep at the beginning of the show, but Seaward’s strong presence and performance kept me wide awake and entertained. So if you enjoy absurd comedy, strange supernatural stories and making "woo-ooo" noises, then this show will leave you smiling. But do watch out for the exploding cemetery.