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Top 10 stage frights for families

Published 28 October 2013

It’s that time of year again, the one date in the Gregorian calendar when we scare ourselves senseless with spooky stories of ghastly ghouls and paranormal ponderings just for the fun of it.

We’re sure that much of the next week will be spent carving frightful faces into pumpkins, cutting eye holes in bed linen and wandering around neighbourhoods in search of treats as sweet as Willy Wonka’s tooth, but we also hope that there’s time in that busy half-term schedule to make a trip to one of the fang-tastic shows playing over the Halloween period.

Fear not, there’s no need to interrupt your preparations to find out what’s on as we’ve put together our top 10 family friendly theatrical offerings taking place in theatres across the capital to help you spend Halloween in spooktacular style.

1.    Room On The Broom / artsdepot

This Olivier Award nominated show has all the ingredients for a brooming enjoyable 31 October. Join Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler’s much-loved wand-wielder and her disgruntled cat at the north London venue from 26 to 31 October as they try to get her belongings back with the help of a handful of colourful characters who all want to hitch a ride on her sweeping aircraft.

2.    The Woman In Black / Fortune theatre

For 25 years The Woman In Black has been bringing its chilling tale to the West End and for 25 years children and adults alike have been jumping out of their seats in fear of the frightening female of its title. Be warned, spending the scariest night of the year in the company of Arthur Kipps as he journeys into the terrifying terrain of Eel Marsh House is only recommended for individuals aged eight and older who are prepared for a sleepless night afterwards!

3.    Horrible Histories – Barmy Britain 2 / Garrick theatre

No spooky shenanigans here, but more than enough gruesome gore to give even Henry VIII’s chief executioner the heebie jeebies. Severed heads, body snatching criminals and the Black Death, London’s Garrick theatre has it all this October with the second instalment of Horrible Histories – Barmy Britain. Throw in some scarily swift costume changes and a poo stained rag that is sure to send children screaming and you’ve got an entertaining afternoon of horrifying and hilarious antics even before night falls.

4.    Wicked / Apollo Victoria theatre

It may tell its musical tale about the Wicked Witch of the West all year round, but what better time to see the Oz-based spectacular about everyone’s favourite green-skinned sorceress than Halloween? Gregory Maguire’s popular reimagining of the broom-wielding, water-fearing baddy in The Wizard Of Oz is now celebrating its eighth year in the West End so head to the Apollo Victoria theatre to experience Something Bad and Wonderful this Halloween.

5.    Nosferatu / Unicorn theatre

Playing as part of the Family Arts Festival, this show is billed as “a must-scream for Halloween”.  Reminiscent of the story second on our list, Nosferatu charts the terrifying tale of a young lawyer who travels to a small town to close a sale for a mysterious count… one that looks a little bit like a garlic clove. Intrigued? Add a few helpings of humour, horror and some unconventional objects and you’ve got a chilling concoction that fear-seeking children aged eight and older are going to find hard to resist.

6.    The Insect Circus / Jackson’s Lane

Creepy crawlies always have a place on our Halloween check list. Not your usual harbingers of horror, these beastly bugs are capable of far more than climbing up your water spout. They promise wondrous feats, dangerous tricks and sensational amounts of silliness for everyone aged two to 102, and will be making an appearance at the north London venue from 29 October to 2 November.

7.    STORYSTOCK / Bush theatre

This inaugural storytelling festival has plenty on offer over the half-term period. From Wizard School, a drama workshop based on the potent supernatural combination of Macbeth and Hogwarts, to Maggie And Rose’s Trick Or Treat Halloween Party, featuring bloody sandwiches and spider cakes, the Bush theatre has everything you need for a fun-filled Halloween.

8.    We’re Going On A Bear Hunt / Greenwich theatre

We’re Going On A Bear Hunt. We’re going to catch a big one. What a beautiful day! We’re not scared! Or are we? At the heart of Michael Rosen’s well-known tale is a bear so big and a forest so deep and dark that we can’t guarantee that young theatregoers won’t find it at least a teensy weensy bit scary. But, with swishy swashy grass, a splishy splashy river and squelchy mud, this new puppetry production is certain to provide children aged three and older with plenty of enjoyment too.

9.    Nobody Rides The Unicorn / Albany theatre

A theatrical treat for everyone aged three and older, this show, also playing as part of the Family Arts Festival, combines puppetry and live music to tell the story of an innocent young girl who is swindled by evil tricksters King of Joppardy and Doctor Slythe. Trick or treat? There’s no need to decide. This one has both!

10.    Luna / Unicorn theatre

If your little ones are scared of the dark and the shadows that move like monsters on their bedroom walls then maybe Halloween isn’t for them. The same can be said for the little boy in this enchanting theatrical tale at the Unicorn theatre… until he meets Luna, who takes him on a journey through the sky to cure his fears of the dark. Join Luna on her fear-expelling journey at the London Bridge venue and maybe next time those little ones will be brave enough to see one of the scarier shows on this list.


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