Theatre The Sherling Studio

Overview

Two Ghost Stories by M R James

Performed by R M Lloyd Parry 

 

“Put it down, you fool! Do you want to look through a dead man’s eyes?” 

 Two chilling and thrilling tales from M R James, the master of the English ghost story.

In A View from a Hill a pair of old binoculars reveal the grisly history of an idyllic stretch of English landscape. In The Treasure of Abbot Thomas a treasure-seeker comes face to face with unspeakable horror at the bottom of an ancient well. 

Dead Men’s Eyes is the sixth instalment of Nunkie’s M R James Project, a series of one-man shows that seek to revive the tradition of oral, supernatural storytelling that was perfected by Montague Rhodes James in Cambridge in the years leading up to World War One.

Robert Lloyd Parry interview

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With two more chilling tales from the master of the English ghost story M R James, Nunkie Theatre Company return to Lighthouse on 18 and 19 December. Read by Robert Lloyd Parry, A View from a Hill is about a pair of old binoculars that reveals the grisly history of an idyllic stretch of English landscape; while The Treasure of Abbot Thomas follows a treasure-seeker who comes face to face with unspeakable horror at the bottom of ancient well.

Here, Robert fields a few of our questions…

This is a welcome return to Lighthouse, what can audiences expect from this new show?

An atmospheric solo candlelit retelling of two of the most powerful ghost stories by Montague Rhodes James.

For those who don’t know him, who was M R James and how is his influence felt today?

James was a medieval historian and academic who between 1904 and 1925 published four collections of what are still regarded as the best ghost stories in the English language. Short stories, they were originally written to be read aloud to his friends in Kings College Cambridge on Christmas Eve, but they quickly became popular with a wider public and have remained so ever since. They’ve inspired films, television plays and countless writers of the supernatural since.

Is there one James story that stands out as the perfect example of his work?

It’s hard to pinpoint one – of the two I’m doing in December perhaps The Treasure of Abbot Thomas best encapsulates his technique of steadily building up tension to an almost unbearable climax; and is typical in its brilliantly described setting and its convincing [fake-] historical detail. It’s also worth remembering how funny his stories can be.

Why do you think they work so well at Christmas?

Because it’s cold and dark outside and it’s a time when people traditionally gather together. And when people do that stories have always been exchanged. It feels like something ancient and, perhaps paradoxically, comforting.

How is the oral tradition of storytelling faring in the digital age?

It seems healthy enough. There are some very fine practitioners of traditional storytelling doing excellent work around the country today. And, for me at any rate, platforms like Facebook allow one to reach a wider audience than I otherwise would.

Ticket Information

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