Halloween arts: Graveyard ghosts, an Irish Witch and spooky stories at the Lyric

Victoria Gleason and Mark Claney perform Witch, the story of Irishwoman Alice Kyteler who was charged with witchcraft. Picture by Ian Campbell
Jane Hardy

If you're after that special Halloween chill down the spine, there are plenty of dark entertainments on offer right now.

Ghost tours tackle the matter of the spooky time of year head on. The Death, Tragedy and Betrayal tour of Clifton Street Cemetery in Belfast has gone online and, until October 31, you can explore the spirit world in this distinguished graveyard.

The United Irishmen are well represented, with the McCrackens and Drennan family now at peace here among 8,000 souls with some scary back-stories, as well as the victims of the cholera epidemic of 1832.

To escape the external darkness, what about the enjoyable frisson of some ghost stories? The Listen at the Lyric season of audio drama moves on to the scariest genre with three specially written stories delivered from until November 1 by three of the most expressive voice in the business, belonging to Sean Kearns, Stella McCusker and Frankie McCafferty.

Based on real life tales and in the Irish storytelling tradition, for a modest £6 you encounter malevolent fairies, a house of horror built on a fairy road and a man trying to keep the past buried as he does up a house.

This is the witching time of year and Fourth Wall Theatre Group (which I co-founded) are reprising their drama, Witch. It tells the dark tale of Alice Kyteler, the first Irishwoman to be charged with the heresy of witchcraft in the middle ages.

There's a deal of hubble, bubble, toil and trouble in the account of her trial, someone is burnt at the stake and the dark shadow of suspicion reaches into today. As Kyteler notes: "I am a wronged woman, which is not to say I have not done wrong..." before recounting the deaths of several husbands.

Zoom in to this scary visual treat for £5 from October 31.

Stella McCusker reads Outside Her by Karis Halsall in the Ulster After Dark series, part of Listen at the Lyric, available until November 2

Big Telly Theatre Company, whose recent production of Macbeth really defined dark doings, presents a timely, extremely interactive show where you're the performers. Titled Operation Zombie, it takes place in Portrush and observes the Covid-19 rules.

So your bubble (up to three people, £15, or up to six, £20) is given a time slot, a route and a challenge, to rid this coastal town of its zombie infestation. No prior knowledge of zombies is required but experience (and a good costume) are useful. This runs on October 31 and November 1, with different times across the days.

The unexpected often unnerves and the NI Opera Studio presents a couple of fascinating short films about DESIRE on October 25. Featuring that most disturbing voice, the counter-tenor, in this case belonging to one of the Opera Studio's graduates, Francesco Giusti, they explore the exciting, desirable, created effect of a female voice in a male body.

They also explore via two of the 18th century's most powerful composers, Handel and Bononcini, the work of the noted castrato Farinello. Men wishing to perform in this register paid the ultimate price for musical beauty.

:: More at;,,, @Jamivima (Fourth Wall Theatre group)

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