11 Nov 2017

Stage Fright 2017 Pics & The Dead, Live news

We're very pleased to be able to report that the first-ever Stage Fright event, at Salford's King's Arms on Sunday October 29th, proved to be a terrific day of horrific, theatrical fun for all in attendance.  As usual with this type of event, there were a few last-minute logistical issues - illness prevented guests Carly Tarett and Brian Gorman from attending, with brave actress Victoria Tunnah stepping in, script in hand, to read Carly's role in The Dead, Live as a result - but almost all the planned events took place.  The day ended with a triumphant performance of The Haunting of Blaine Manor, ending its 2017 Salford run.  One attendee commented, "Best £20 I've ever spent!"  Plans are already afoot for a similar event at the same venue next year.

Sean Mason was present with his camera to document the day, and so we are able to present some visual highlights here...

Ed Barry brought his fiendishly difficult Halloween quiz to the King's

Actor Victoria Tunnah - looking just a little tired after playing Letty in Simon Clark's They Will Not Rest and then stepping into The Dead, Live at the eleventh hour!

Paul Mallinson, presenter of the talk on The Weirdest Horror Films Ever Made, with his 'mausoleum' of horror goodies

The impeccably-dressed writer of The Haunting of Blaine Manor, Joe O'Byrne, reading some of his fiendish poetry

Maestro of terror, horror author Keith Keitherland (alias actor Peter Slater) reading from the Necronimicon Ex Mortis

Actor Jenny May Morgan reading Frazer Lee's So Much To See

Mallinson with attendees Mark 'Best £20 I've ever spent' and Charlotte

Writer Victoria Lennox with actors Anne Baron, Geoff Baron and Jenny May Morgan reading The Hag

Many attendees arrived dressed for the occasion!
The King's Arms' familiar, comfortable on the Blaine Manor set

Actor, storyteller and Lee/Cushing Podcast host Howard Whittock

A friendly face to welcome attendees...
Highlights from The Lee/Cushing Podcast talk can be heard here...

Meanwhile, The Dead, Live concludes its current tour with another appearance within the veil of Salford at Smiths Restaurant, Eccles on Wednesday November 15th (book tickets here).  This will be the last performance of the play for 2017, but we're pleased to announce that the show will be part of the first London Lovecraft Festival in February 2018.  Watch this blog for more details.

27 Oct 2017

Stage Fright: A Day of Theatrical Horror - The Full Schedule!

Two days before Stage Fright: A Day of Theatrical Horror hits Salford's the King's Arms, we can now confirm the full schedule and timing's for the day's events, direct from the organisers:

TheatreQuiz & Food BreakStory ReadingsDEADTalksScript Readings

Studio 1


They Will Not Rest / Q&A



The Weirdest Horror Films of All Time (ends 1.50pm)

The Dead, Live & Q&A (ends 3.10pm)




Brian Gorman, Edgar Allan Poe, Keith Keitherland
(ends 4.10pm)


Barry Bros Halloween Quiz & Fiendish Food




Count Magnus


The Hag & Q&A

The Lee/Cushing Podcast


So Much To See

The Haunting of Blaine Manor (with 15-minute interval)





Events Breakdown

12pm – Arrival and registration

12.30pm-1pm – THEY WILL NOT REST (The Snug)
A full-cast reading of the acclaimed, rarely-seen stage adaptation by playwright Ross Kelly of the nightmarishly imaginative short story by award-winning Yorkshire horror author Simon Clark, performed with the special permission of the author.  Followed by a short Q&A with the cast and director.

1.05pm-1.25pm – CATERPILLARS (Studio One)
Join actor Geoff Baron (Old Ground) for a special reading of this chilling, classic tale from 1912 by the English writer EF Benson.

1.30pm-1.50pm – DEADTalks: The Weirdest Horror Films of All Time (Studio One)
Paul Mallinson, editor of the magazine Practical Visual Nihilism, presents a personal rough guide to the weird world of cult horror films.

2pm-3.10pm – THE DEAD, LIVE (Theatre)
(NB. Not 1.30pm, as previously announced.)
A full performance of the acclaimed ‘postmodern ghost story’ play by Daniel Thackeray, recently seen at the GM Fringe and London Horror Festivals. Followed by a Q&A with the writer and cast.  (PLEASE NOTE: This performance will be filmed and audience members must give their consent for their image to be used should they be caught on camera.)

Readings of short stories and poems by these masters of the macabre.  Brian Gorman and Keith Keitherland will be present to read from their own poetry and prose, while Joe O’Byrne will be performing the works of Poe.

Legendary local quizzters the Barry Bros present their esteemed Halloween quiz, with prizes up for grabs, while the King’s Arms Kitchen serves up werewolf burgers of both the meat and vegan variety (yes, apparently there are vegan werewolves).

5.30pm-5.55pm – COUNT MAGNUS (Studio One)
Actor Howard Whittock presents his reading of this 1911 tale by the unmatched master of the English ghost story, MR James.

6pm-6.30pm – THE HAG (The Snug)
An exclusive full-cast reading of this chilling, never-before-performed short play exploring horror in a nursing home setting, by Manchester playwright Victoria Lennox.  Followed by a short Q&A with the cast and writer.

6.35pm-6.55pm – DEADTalks: The Lee/Cushing Podcast (Studio One)
A live recording by the cult podcast of classic British horror films, exploring why such films should continue to be celebrated, and focusing on a classic example pulled from The Bag of Death.

7pm-7.30pm – SO MUCH TO SEE (Studio One)
Actor Jenny May Morgan, fresh from much acclaim at the Edinburgh Fringe, reads this bloodcurdling tale of missing children, with the special permission of its author, Bram Stoker Award finalist Frazer Lee.

(NB. Not 7.30pm, as previously announced by certain outlets)
Stage Fright comes to a climax with a performance of Joe O’Byrne’s smash-hit homage to classic  Hollywood horror, in which an American scientist discovers weird going on in an English manor house in 1953.  There will be one interval of 15 minutes.

Throughout the Day – MALLINSON’S MAUSOLEUM (The Snug)

Take the opportunity to browse Paul Mallinson’s unique horror collection and perhaps grab a bargain.  Also on sale will be a unique piece of Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee artwork, created especially for Stage Fright by artist Brian Gorman.

Tickets (£20 for the full day, £10/£8 for The Haunting of Blaine Manor alone, £7/£6 for The Dead, Live alone, or £1 (payable on the door) for just the quiz, are still available: online booking via The King's Arms.

10 Oct 2017

Stage Fright: A Day of Theatrical Horror comes to Salford on Sunday October 29th

Scytheplays Ltd is delighted to announce that, late this month, it will be participating in a new genre theatre event in Salford, when a performance of The Dead, Live will take place at The King's Arms Theatre as part of Stage Fright, a one-day horror event for the weekend before Halloween.

The main event of Stage Fright will be a performance of The Haunting of Blaine Manor, Joe O'Byrne's theatrical homage to classic Hollywood and Hammer, which gained great popular acclaim over several performances in Manchester last year.  This will be preceded by a matinee performance of The Dead, Live.  There will also be several other attractions to the event such as a horror quiz, live readings of short stories and mini-lectures/presentations, food provided, and a horror cabaret.  Tickets are available from the King's Arms for the full day programme or for either play by itself.  The full event listing is given below.

The King's Arms presents a special treat for Halloween weekend - a whole day of horror-inflected theatre and entertainment.

Centerpiece of this will be full performances of two highly-acclaimed horror plays:

THE HAUNTING OF BLAINE MANOR by Joe O'Byrne. England, 1953. Something has awoken... At the behest of its mysterious owner, psychologist Dr Roy Earle comes to stay in 'the most haunted house in England' in company with a strange assortment of observers. But something has been expecting them. It's going to be quite a night... "See it if you dare" - I Love Manchester.

THE DEAD, LIVE by Daniel Thackeray. Lawrence Dodds is a popular 'psychic' medium who knows he's a fake, but the world of Spirit may have some surprises in store for him when someone unexpected attends one of his live shows. "Tense, atmospheric... Quite terrifying" - Fictionmaker. NB - audience members please note: this performance will be filmed live and audience members will be required to give their consent to their image appearing in the film.

The day also comprises:

QUINTESSENCE OF EVIL QUIZ: Renowned local quizzter Edward Barry presents his special Halloween quiz.

'ORRIBLE ORATIONS: Readings by professional actors of scripts and short stories from classic authors like EF Benson to modern masters like Simon Clark.

DEADTalks: short lectures on horror topics given by experts and fans, including a live recording by the podcast of classic British horror films, The Lee/Cushing Podcast.

CADAVEROUS CABARET: An opportunity to take part in an 'open mic' session as groups and individuals are invited to perform 5-10 minute horror pieces.

FIENDISH FOOD: Hot food provided for all-day pass holders from the King's Arms' legendary kitchen.

Cosplayers are encouraged to come in their most terrifying togs!

The day runs from 12pm to 10pm. Full timetable released nearer the day.

All day pass with access to all events: £20.

Only The Haunting of Blaine Manor (8pm-10pm): £10/£8 concs.

Only The Dead, Live (1.30pm-2.30 tbc): £7/£6 concs.

Only the quiz: (4pm-5.30 tbc): £1.

NB. Anyone who would like to either perform in the Cabaret or give a DEADTalk, please e-mail Dan via guiltedge@hotmail.com before Monday 23rd October to confirm this.

25 Sep 2017

The Dead, Live hits the London Horror Festival and beyond in its new autumn tour

Jake Geen's new promo art for the show, featuring all the upcoming performance dates

Following its highly acclaimed run in the Greater Manchester Fringe Festival this July, eerie "postmodern ghost story" (to quote Starburst) The Dead, Live is returning with a short North West tour and a stop-off at the London Horror Festival between 19th October and 15th November 2017.

The London horror Festival logo (#LHF2017, londonhorrorfestival.co.uk)

The Dead, Live met with great audience enthusiasm and critical praise during its first run in Manchester. Starburst Magazine's Ed fortune, who will be previewing the show for the new run, describes it thus: "What begins as a gentle spook show twists into something much more interesting... Fantastic".  The Fictionmaker gave it four stars and called it "tight, atmospheric, and unsettling".  Andrew Riley of Quays News praised it as "a wonderful performance... it was perfect".  Steve Ballshaw, main programmer of annual Manchester horror cinema festival Grimmfest, called it "a fine, tense, old-school ghost story".

Many audience members chipped in their enthusiasm too, with Facebook and Twitter comments such as: "Thought provoking", "Had me on the edge of my seat", "I thoroughly recommend going to this", and "A chilling, sardonic tale that would fit right into Ghost Stories at Christmas (or inside Inside No 9)".

Much-acclaimed actors Howard Whittock and Carly Tarett will be returning for the new run, for which writer Daniel Thackeray and director Alex Shepley have taken the opportunity to refine and expand the script and effects - including the addition of new music by PH Fry - to make it an even more chilling experience.

The first season of Oldham's Third Thursday Theatre @ Jackson's Pit programme,
including The Dead, Live on October 19th
On Thursday October 19th, The Dead, Live returns to Oldham's uniquely atmospheric cellar bar and performance space, Jackson's Pit. Jackson's now plays host to a monthly night for theatrical performances called Third Thursday Theatre, which began on August 17th 2017.  Although only just having had its sophomore performance - One Man Bond - the night is already proving very popular with the new, growing local audience.

On Sunday October 22nd, there will be a special matinee performance of The Dead, Live at the London Horror Festival.  This annual festival takes over the legendary Old Red Lion Theatre in Islington for several weeks of horrific live entertainment, with different shows every day.  On Saturday November 4th, the Old Red Lion will play host to another returning spectral hit, Joe O'Byrne's The Haunting of Blaine Manor, featuring an acting role for The Dead, Live's writer, Daniel Thackeray.  The entire programme of this year's festival can be viewed at the LHF website.

Stage Fright: A Day of Theatrical Horror, coming to the King's Arms, Salford on Sunday October 29th,
and featuring The Dead, Live
Returning to the North West, on Sunday October 29th - the weekend before Halloween - Salford's the King's Arms is hosting its own one-off event, Stage Fright: A Day of Theatrical Horror.  In addition to panels, cabaret, exhibitions, a quiz competition and specially provided food, all on a horror theme, there will performances of The Haunting of Blaine Manor and, again as a matinee at 1.30pm, The Dead, Live.

Then, on Monday November 6th, The Dead Live heads to Chester for an evening performance at The Commercial Hotel.  Another unique event, this evening has The Dead, Live form part of a double bill with the world premiere performance of a chilling short play, K by Brian E Gorman.

Brian E Gorman's K, accompanying The Dead, Live's Chester performance
Following this, on Wednesday November 8th, the show moves to Glossop's The George Hotel for a one-off appearance at this popular music venue.

And finally, the tour finishes with an appearance at Eccles' wonderful dinner theatre venue, Smiths Restaurant - where you can absorb the play's shocks on a full stomach!

The new trailer for The Dead, Live, specially produced by Ambidextrous Solutions Limited, can be seen below.

Tickets for all of the performances can be booked at the following links:

7 Jul 2017

Acclaim for The Dead, Live and The Faces At The Window!

Fringe theatre season is underway in Greater Manchester, and Scytheplays' current output has been going down well with audiences and critics.

The Faces At The Window: The Bandwidths of Balderdash had its first preview at Gullivers on June 29th, which received five stars from The Reviews Hub.  "A superbly staged production... quality stuff indeed" are just a couple of the nice things the reviewer had to say about the show, the full text of the review being available here.  The Bandwidths of Balderdash will receive further performances at the King's Arms, Salford on Monday 17th and The Met Theatre, Bury on Thursday 20th July, and booking links can be found in earlier posts on this blog.

All photos: Shay Rowan Photography

Meanwhile The Dead, Live had its first preview at the King's Arms on Wednesday 5th July and was very well received by its audience, with Dead Man Jones on Twitter calling the show "a chilling, sardonic tale that would fit right into Ghost Stories at Christmas (or inside Inside No. 9)". Meanwhile Steve Balshaw, one of the organisers of Manchester's annual Grimmfest, wrote on Facebook: "It's a fine work - a blackly comic and increasingly troubling tale of a fake medium with a dark secret, which starts off droll and knowing, and grows ever more unsettling as it progresses. In short, it's good, creepy fun, and there's still chance for you to check it out. It's a fine, tense, old-school ghost story." The next performances of The Dead, Live are at TriBeCa in Manchester on Sunday 9th July at 4pm and 9pm. Again, booking links can be found in previous posts on this blog.

2 Jul 2017

The Dead, Live - The poster art

In the week of its Greater Manchester Fringe debut, we can't believe we haven't yet shared with you designer Jake Geen's wonderful poster art for the show.  The image is below.

New trailer for current Scytheplays production

As fringe season gets underway in Manchester, Scytheplays has released a preview trailer for the comedy sketch shows by The Faces At The Window, which begin on Monday July 3rd at 9pm at the King's Arms, Salford, moving to other venues later:

Tickets for the shows are on sale now and can be purchased using the links in the previous posts on this blog.

10 Jun 2017

Bandwidths of Balderdash - plus more Postcodes! - for the Greater Manchester Fringe

The Faces At The Window: (L-R) Steve Cain, Richard Barry, Edward Barry, Victoria May and Daniel Thackeray
Photo by Shay Rowan

The Faces At The Window - the popular sketch comedy troupe shepherded by Scytheplays Ltd in partnership with Lilaloka Productions and Hat Hair Productions - are about to return to venues in the North West with their second full-length show, The Bandwidths of Balderdash.  The new show debuts as part of the Greater Manchester Fringe Festival, while their first acclaimed effort, Looking at the Lesser Postcodes, is also returning for several performances in the Festival and beyond.

In The Bandwidths of Balderdash, actor/writers Victoria May, Richard Barry, Steve Cain, Edward Barry and Daniel Thackeray, plus writer/director Ross Kelly and full band led by double bassist Joel Roberts, create another unique radio-style comedy sketch show with songs. They invite you to tune in to meet a strangely unsettling set of characters inhabiting our radio waves: listen in on Radio Metaldehyde, hear news reports from 570BC and be soothed by tuneful dispatches about uncles with lengthy catamarans.

Following the Greater Manchester Fringe, both shows will continue to perform at venues around the North West, while the team will be developing and periodically premiering collections of all-new material.

The currently planned performances are below (with booking links).  The different shows, while containing some recurring characters, can be enjoyed independently of one another.

The Bandwidths of Balderdash

PREVIEW PERFORMANCE – Gullivers, Oldham St, M4 1LW
Thursday 29th June (7.30pm)
£5/£4 concs. on the door or via Eventbrite

The King’s Arms Theatre, Bloom St, Salford, M3 6AN
Monday 17th July (7.30pm)
£8/£7 concs. on the door or via Greater Manchester Fringe

The Box @ The Met Theatre, Market Street, Bury, BL9 0BW
Thurs 20th Jul 2017 7:30pm
£8/£7.00 concs. on the door or via Greater Manchester Fringe

Looking at the Lesser Postcodes

The King’s Arms Theatre, Bloom St, Salford, M3 6AN
Monday 3rd July (9pm) and Tuesday 4th July (7.30pm)
£8/£7 concs. on the door or via Greater Manchester Fringe

Jackson’s Pit, off Barn St, Oldham, OL1
Thursday 17th August (7.30pm)
£5/£4 concs. on the door or via Eventbrite

The Klondike Club, 1 Burnage Range, Levenshulme, Manchester M19 2HQ
Friday 18th August (7.30pm)
£5/£4 concs. on the door or via Eventbrite

The poster for The Faces At The Window's upcoming tour,
designed by Victoria May and Daniel Thackeray

The Dead, Live - the ghost story returns for its first full production

Coming soon to a fringe venue near you... but maybe he doesn't want you to tell!
Part of the poster design for The Dead, Live designed by Jake Geen

Following the abbreviated and experimental, yet still acclaimed performances of Daniel Thackeray's unusual ghost story play, The Dead, Live, in Oldham last February, Scytheplays Ltd is thrilled to announce that the show is now embarking on a small tour of several venues during late June and July, when it takes its place as part of the annual Greater Manchester Fringe.

The production retains two of the original actors from the Oldham Library performances, Howard Whittock and Carly Tarett, joined by Anne Baron.  A new director is on board in the form of Alex Shepley, who has created several acclaimed Manchester fringe productions in recent years, including working with writers such as Rob Johnston (Einstein's Daughter), Kate Mitchell (the musical 300 Days) and Ned Hopkins (A Lot of It About). The show will involve design work by the brilliant Hannah Rowe and original music by PH Fry, and with such talents on board, is looking to be spectacular.

Before the full run begins, there will be an opportunity to see the show in a work-in-progress form, for free, as part of the first Levenshulme Art Festival.  This performance takes place at 7.30pm on Sunday 25th June at the Klondike Club, Levenshulme, M19 2HQ and free tickets can be booked via Eventbrite.

A video interview about the show with writer Daniel Thackeray and actor Howard Whittock can be seen at: youtube.com/watch?v=PjJqzXQwvik&t=15s

The official press release is below, followed by booking links for each of the performances.

In development for ten years and initially developed through the Oldham Coliseum Theatre's New Writing programme, The Dead, Live is a new and unique take on the theatrical ghost story. Partly inspired by stage predecessors such as Stephen Mallatratt's The Woman in Black and by memorably frightening TV events such as The Stone Tape and Ghostwatch, it nevertheless charts an intriguing course of its own, inviting the audience to participate in a live psychic medium show, in which things may not be quite what they seem.

The Dead, Live is a new departure for a creative team who have in the past been responsible for more light-hearted fare. Oldham playwright Daniel Thackeray previously wrote the highly-praised, based-on-truth 1980s-set comedy drama Together in Electric Dreams, in which Sir Clive Sinclair and the future Lord Sugar wrestled over sushi for the future of the British electronics industry ("A lot of laughs and worth a trip down
memory lane" said the Manchester Evening News). Actor Howard Whittock, who plays Lawrence Dodds, the 'psychic' who knows he is really a fake, and director Alex Shepley previously worked together on the surreal comedy sketch show, The Ray Harryhausen Skeleton Orchestra. And actress Carly Tarett, also from Oldham, is well known for her comedy one-woman shows, such as Sinful and Princess Dee, which she has performed locally and internationally to much acclaim.

Writer Daniel Thackeray and actor Howard Whittock.
Photo by Shay Rowan

Although it features light-hearted moments, The Dead, Live is something altogether more chilling. Whittock and Thackeray are both fans of horror, having hosted The Lee/Cushing Podcast on classic horror films at www.noisybark.com for the last year, and their aim here is to bring that feel to the stage.  When the play received a partial preview performance as part of Oldham Library's live@thelibrary programme in February 2017, North West End's reviewer praised it: "Mixing pathos with light humour, and tragedy with the spiritual unknown... this story certainly has, as we say in the profession, legs."

The writer says: "I started writing The Dead, Live in 2006, and then I left it for a long time... But something about it nagged at me. Apart from the wonderful The Woman in Black, there are so few theatrical ghost stories, despite that intimate sense of the uncanny, that you can only really get in theatre, being so suited to that type of story. The wonderful sense of being in the same room with something otherworldly. I wanted to capture that. And of course, that element is also present, in a different way, in live psychic shows, the kind of thing that Derek Acorah does. It seemed to me that to write something which combined the two could be a real winner. Still, it took a long time to get the balance right but, thanks to a brilliant director and cast, I think we've finally done it. And audiences are in for something really memorable!"

The Dead, Live, in its final form, is receiving its premiere performances this July as part of the Greater Manchester Fringe, playing at several different venues. After this the plan is to take the play on tour around venues in the North West.

A video interview with writer Daniel Thackeray and actor Howard Whittock can be seen at:

Performance dates, venues and booking links:

The Kings Arms: Theatre (PREVIEW)
11 Bloom Street, M3 6AN
Wed 5 Jul 2017 9:00pm £5.00 (£4.00 concs)
On the door or book online via Greater Manchester Fringe

The BED Bar @ Tribeca
50 Sackville St, Manchester, M1 3WF
Sunday 9th July 2017, 4pm and 9pm (£8, £7 concs)
On the door or book online via Greater Manchester Fringe

Jackson’s Pit
Off Barn St, Oldham, OL1
Tuesday 25th July, 7.30pm (£5/£4 concs)
On the door or discount tickets online via Eventbrite

The Box @ The Met Theatre
Market Street, Bury, BL9 0BW
Thu 13 Jul 2017 7:30pm £8.00 (£7.00 concs)
On the door or book online via Greater Manchester Fringe 

The BED Bar @ Tribeca
50 Sackville St, Manchester, M1 3WF
Tuesday 18th July 2017, 6pm and 9pm (£8, £7 concs)
On the door or book online via Greater Manchester Fringe