Coronation Street stars serve up professional thrills and chills
Tim Arthur's Darktales immediately evokes a chilling atmosphere as Andrew Paul takes to the stage as a successful writer, telling a classic tale by Saki with immaculate timing that casts a spell over the audience. He's soon joined by Sean Ward as an aspiring interviewer, who visits the writer's home to discuss his latest book, but has a sinister motive that relates to a shared lover and a fate that may or may not have befallen her.
Darktales works as an old-school horror anthology, capturing several anecdotal stories which keep the scares coming at regular intervals. There's also an aside dealing with dead children's photographs that's genuinely unnerving and creepy, even if it doesn't immediately connect with the rest of the story.
Ward and Paul might be more familiar to audiences from Coronation Street, but there's nothing ordinary about their meaty performances here. There is blood spilled, and a little unexpected gore to be splashed around too, but Darktales is a patient and professionally produced piece of drama that could well be expanded for a full length West End play. Evoking Saki and Edgar Allan Poe might set a high bar; Darktales delivers the thrills and chills that make for a good night of horror.
Pleasance Courtyard, until 29 Aug (not 16, 23), 5.50pm, £13–£14 (£12–£13).