The Happiness Patrol's Tales of Terror
The Happiness Patrol's Tales of Terror

Having been impressed by The Happiness Patrol’s imaginative staging of The Masque of the Red Death at the Old Joint Stock in Birmingham at the end of last year, I was curious to see what the Walsall-based company would pull out of its hat for the Lichfield Festival.

The result – Tales of Terror – turned out to be a typically quirky, typically dark voyage into spooky tales by MR James (whose stories were popularised for a modern audience by the BBC in its series Ghost Story for Christmas) and Lafcadio Hearn (also known as Koizumi Yakumo) whose writings were heavily inspired by Japan.

Using minimal props, Tales of Terror’s three actors – Natalie Wilson, Dawn Butler and The Happiness Patrol artistic director, Philip Holyman (pictured, left) – told five stories to the audience, such as Hearn’s The Reconcilliation: a tale of a Samurai whose thoughtless betrayal of his wife ends in a curious haunting. Butler’s telling of Hearn’s The Woman of the Snow really benefitted from a direct style and simple gestures, while Holyman brought out both the humour and the horror of James’s There was a Man Dwelt by a Churchyard.

The Happiness Patrol’s talent for the weird, the sinister and the spooky was not only evident here and in The Masque of the Red Death (adapted from a short story by Edgar Allan Poe) but in a recent tour by sister company Little Earthquake, The Haunting, which recreated a Victorian seance in historic locations across the Midlands. Undoubtedly, it’s a company that’s headed for great things; you can catch Tales of Terror at the Garrick Studio on Friday 17th and Saturday 18th at 7.45pm.

Annette Rubery

A media and communications professional with ten years’ experience on Metro newspaper and a passion for web development and social media.