All entirely reassuring for us as a cast who will be using the dressing rooms, looking into mirrors, using dark backstage corridors...gulp.
Over the coming years there were numerous sightings of eerie figures in the wings, backstage and around the lighting box but the most interesting and alarming episode was still ahead of The Neptune Theatre. In February 1993 a musical version of Dennis Wheatley's black magic thriller The Devil Rides Out was produced there, and all hell broke loose...
The essential plot is of a satanist wanting to summon the Devil himself from hell, would probably be enough to rouse any ghost there, but this productions seemed cursed from the start. I'm going to skim over the incidents that occurred there, and a fuller description of what occurred is at the link at the foot of this article. Of course any production about ghosts and demons coming to a haunted theatre might help the publicity of the show and sell extra tickets...but the show was already sold out - so none of what occurred had anything to do with attracting publicity.
Part of the story involves a pentagram. Three theatre staff were struggling to get it right on the stage floor, chalking and then painting it down, eventually they got it done - however they had apparently made a catastrophic error that would be discovered later. Almost immediately after this error strange things started to occur.
On opening night the technician in the sound box started hearing strange sounds on the stage comms system, and from the lighting box a light appeared to be above the stage with no one being able to identify where the source was coming from. A long corridor under the stage was freezing cold, despite having the heating on - one actress felt so uneasy in her dressing room that she got changed in the backstage toilet.
Over the coming performances lights and tech equipment began to develop a life of its own, lights coming on when they shouldn't, sounds playing when they shouldn't and much louder than they should have. There were random slamming fire and stage doors, odd winds and breezes, cast and crew complained of not sleeping well and one actor in the show awoke one morning to find dark bruises around her throat.
'This prompted paranormal investigator, Mark Glover, to turn up the next day. He spent most of the afternoon in the theatre taking photos, measurements and making audio recordings at various locations. As well as interviewing the cast and some of the crew, Mark made a few Electronic Voice Phenomena (EVP) recordings. On one of his tapes he picked up a number of anomalous voices that weren’t present at the time of the recording – and in one of his photographs, featuring the pentagram on stage, he captured a strange eerie mist hovering just above the circle that he swore was not present when he took the picture.
Analesha, with the aid of the technicians, performed her ‘purification’ ritual on the pentagram again, and things began to settle down in the theatre. Each night before performances, she secretly blessed the circle with salt water. Save for the odd door slamming, the sinister atmosphere in the theatre died down. On the last night Analesha didn’t get a chance to ‘bless’ the circle. As she fretted in the aisles, the unknowing cast went on stage for the final performance …
As soon as we were into the full swing of the show, Jackie started to curse and swear as she once again lost control of the lighting desk. Lights began turning themselves on and off of their own accord. Seconds later, Collette the Stage Manager completely freaked out, shouting down the comms that she had just been pulled into the wings backstage by something invisible that had grabbed her tee-shirt. Then my sound desk went crazy, and sounds began to rise sharply in volume even though I was nowhere near the controls.
While all this was occurring, Brett and other actors on stage spied a sinister third figure in the lighting box that just fizzled out right in front of their eyes. They were so freaked out that they began missing lines. Then, during the final scene, the smoke machine went off during the finale, flooding the stage with dense fog. Technicians had to drag it off stage as they couldn’t stop it. Again, the device had operated whilst unplugged and being stone cold.
At the end of the final performance the actors and non-essential theatre staff went off to the end-of-show party, leaving a handful of technicians in the theatre to tidy up and strip down the set and equipment. The strip-down was the fastest I have ever experienced as we all wanted to get the hell out of there as fast as we could. Finally, we ripped up the tape that marked the pentagram and didn’t feel happy until we had repainted the stage to remove all trace of it completely.'
Here is the full article:
So, did the pentagram cause all of this? Did this happen at all or was it all mass hysteria for a tired and stressed cast and crew? Who knows, but perhaps we might find out - the plot of The Haunting of Blaine Manor involves a pentagram! The good thing? You never see it, so there's no danger of it being upside down. So who knows what we will encounter on our visit to The Haunted Epstein with our haunted production?
in 2011 the theatre was renamed The Epstein, in honour of The Beatles manager, Brian Epstein.
We will see you there on Friday the 6th of September, a haunted date for your diary. Whatever happens we can guarantee you one hell of a show, check the reviews and come join us, but book quickly as tickets are disappearing faster than ghosts at an exorcist's convention.
Book your tickets here:
Horror is a Place...
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