Wind whips through the capital’s streets, nibbling at your neck. Nights are closing in, giving spooks and vampires dark spaces to hide. It’s the time of year we start to think about ghost stories, werewolves and a London theatre Halloween.
And where better to indulge in the creepiness, shocks, scares and general spine-tinglingness of the spooky season of Halloween (and the weeks of October before it) than in London’s theatres?
As ever, there’s a show to suit every taste. Unless you’re a vampire and only have a taste for blood, that is. If that’s the case, you’re out of luck. Otherwise, our London theatre Halloween list has a show that will have you howling like an excitable banshee:
Classic London theatre Halloween drama:
The Woman In Black (Fortune Theatre) – Throughout October
A West End favourite. Follow young solicitor Arthur Kipps as he heads off to an isolated house on the marshes. Why does no one else go near that place? It might have something to do with the title of the show. This is one ghost story that knows exactly how to make you leap out of your seat. BOOK NOW
The Exorcist (Phoenix Theatre) – From 20 October
Arguably the most famous and controversial horror film ever made comes to the stage. William Peter Blatty’s story, which audiences first encountered as a novel, is the tale of a child in trouble. Regan’s particular issue is that she’s possessed by a demon. It doesn’t help that the priest called in to assist is struggling with a crisis of faith. Stars Adam Garcia, Jenny Seagrove and Peter Bowles. BOOK NOW
Spooky musicals for London’s witching season:
The Phantom Of The Opera (Her Majesty’s Theatre) – Throughout October
The West End classic has been scaring audiences for more than 30 years. Could there be a more perfect Halloween musical treat? It features a ghostly presence, a masked killer, a candlelit lair, organ-tastic tunes and even spooky dry ice. Find out more in our interview with current Phantom, Ben Lewis. BOOK NOW
Young Frankenstein (Garrick Theatre) – Throughout October
More hilarious than horrifying, Mel Brooks’ musical does feature the grandson of Victor Frankenstein. Frederick is a New York brain surgeon whose life changes dramatically when he inherits his family home in Transylvania. He has a choice to make: continue his medical life in the Big Apple or follow the family tradition. BOOK NOW
The Toxic Avenger (Arts Theatre) – Throughout October
When Melvin Ferd The Third is tipped into a vat of toxic waste, he emerges, stronger, angrier and greener. The Toxic Avenger is an alternative superhero story that is as crass as it is charming. Can Toxie defeat the evil, polluting Mayor of Tromaville? Will he win the heart of the blind librarian? There’s only one way to find out. BOOK NOW
Thriller Live (Lyric Theatre) – Throughout October
“It’s close to midnight and something evil’s lurking in the dark…” If there’s one song that’s synonymous with Halloween, it’s Michael Jackson’s classic. And if there’s one place to see it performed at this time of year, it’s as part of this song-and-dance spectacular in the West End. BOOK NOW
Almost everything you could want for a London theatre Halloween:
London Horror Festival (Old Red Lion Theatre) – 15 October to 4 November
Bringing spine-chilling theatre to the capital since 2011, this festival of the macabre returns to Islington this October. With more than 20 shows, the line-up varies from Lovecraft and Poe to comedy and brand new stories. There’s something for everyone… unless you really don’t like horror.
Unnerving, immersive scare-fests:
Hammer House Of Horror Live – The Soulless Ones (Hoxton Hall) – 3 to 31 October
Step inside Hoxton Hall this October and you will enter a vampire’s hive. The legendary Hammer House Of Horror are staging their first live immersive show, in which audiences can explore four floors of the atmospheric venue while a terrifying tale of immortal garlic-avoiders is played out. Find out more in our interview with co-creator Anna Söderblom. BOOK NOW
Alternative blood-curdling dramas for a London theatre Halloween:
Le Grand Mort (Trafalgar Studios) – Until 28 October
On the surface, Stephen Clark’s drama appears to be about two men having dinner. Michael, played by Julian Clary, is preparing the meal when the show begins. While he chops, he chats about times when the human body has been useful after death. And then his guest arrives, and the reality of the situation becomes clear.
A Trilogy Of Horrors (The White Bear Theatre) – 24 to 28 October
Why have just one scary story when you can enjoy three? TumbleDry Theatre stage adaptations of Edgar Allan Poe’s The Tell-Tale Heart, Charles Dickens’ The Signal Man and Mary Shelley’s The Mortal Immortal. An ideal autumnal treat.
The Ghost Train (Brookside Theatre) – 31 October to 4 November
A thriller with more than a little fun about it, The Ghost Train is written by Arnold Ridley, who played Private Godfrey in Dad’s Army. The story follows a group of travellers stranded at a Cornish railway station. Legend has it that anyone who sees the station’s ghost train will surely die… This is an amateur production.
Kwaidan (Greenwich Theatre) – 19 to 21 October
Mixing life-sized puppets with shadows, actors, video and more, Kwaidan tells the story of a young woman who returns to her childhood home. Inspired by Japanese ghost stories and horror movies, it’s a pre-Halloween treat for audiences in their teens and older.
The Terrible Infants (Wilton’s Music Hall) – Until 28 October
Dark, macabre and inspired by Roald Dahl and Tim Burton, The Terrible Infants tells the story of, well, less-than-perfect children. Les Enfants Terribles use puppets, music and wonderful theatricality to tell of insatiable Tumb, forgettable Thingummyboy and more. Producer James Seager tells us more.