It’s getting macabre in Manchester and spooky in Salford this Hallo’ween with the inaugural Greater Manchester Horror Fringe. Leading local fringe companies have adapted some chilling classics as well as new frights. Scytheplays Creative Director and Festival co-director Daniel Thackeray takes up the story: “It was felt by a few of us on the fringe scene that there wasn’t enough horror theatre around – especially around the time of Halloween. It’s exciting to be able to redress that somewhat.”
Leading the charge are three adaptations of Simon Clark shorts in Hotel Midnight (Lass O’Gowrie, 29-31 October). ‘Swallowing a Dirty Seed’, ‘They Will Not Rest’ and ‘Bumpty’s Bones’ will be featured as adapted by Baz Greenland, Ross Kelly (Wine of India) and Sean Mason (V for Vendetta).
Clark, one of Britain’s most popular and acclaimed authors of horror has written titles such as the apocalyptic Blood Crazy, and the John Wyndham sequel Night of the Triffids. Commenting on the prospect of his stories being adapted for the Fringe, Clark says: “There is a grand tradition of dramatizing ghost stories for the theatre. The Horror Fest in Manchester continues this proud tradition. I’m delighted that some of my eeriest stories will become part of this ambitious event”
Over in the gothic surroundings of the Town Hall Tavern, MR James Count Magnus (October 23,25-27 & 31) will be brought to life by Howard Whittock (Harvey, Year of the Sex Olympics). A sinister story of an English academic who, whilst researching the reign of terror presided over by a particularly vile Swedish count, discovers more than he bargains for.
Also running (with a specially priced ticket offer for attendees of both) is The Hag (October 23, 25-26 & 31), a new play from Victoria Lennox. Set in a modern day nursing home, is there more to grumpy Iris’s insistence that something evil visits her room very night than meets the eye?
Baz Greenwood brings a sci-fi chiller to Fab Café in Centurion (22, 26-28 October). The spaceship Venture with its three-person crew is alone on a remote planet conducting environmental tests. But when one of the crew spots a human-like figure stalking the landscape outside the ship, there are clues that suggest the planet has been visited before. Promising a unique site-specific piece, it is directed by Paul Anderton (Broken).
Its over to spooky Salford for Bloomin’ Hell – The Kings Arms Ghost Tour (25-27 October). Built in 1893, the Kings Arms wasn’t always in its current position on Bloom Street – it was moved for reasons unknown. The site is now inhabits was a burial ground and when the foundations were put in, human bones were found – but whose? Join a zombie musical, nine actors and one hellish building to find out!
Also at the Kings for one night only is The Séance of Dickens (29 October), a one man show focusing on the character of Josiah Drood who claims to be able to contact the dead. Over the course of the show, Drood contacts and becomes possessed by some of Dickens most famous characters and naturally, not all is as it seems..
Film fans are also looked after over at the Dancehouse with the first of Grimm Up North‘s gothic nights on 30 October in conjunction with the BFI. This month you will be treated to the walking dead with a double bill of zombies in George Romero’s Day of the Dead and Zombie Flesh Eaters (starring Survivors Ian McCulloch). The season continues with Vampires (21 November), Ghosts (13 December) and Monsters (10 Jan). Taking in venues including Ordsall Hall and the John Rylands Library, this is a season not to be missed!
The Greater Manchester Horror Fringe runs from 22 October to 31 October with advance tickets available at www.wegottickets.com. The Facebook group will keep you up to date with all the latest information.