Take an open imagination and a brave heart for ghostly walk in the woods
Anyone familiar with the work of Cornwall's pioneering Rogue Theatre knows they have an enduring fascination with all things dark and mysterious.
Elements of spookery creep into all the gloriously immersive and entertaining dramatic productions masterminded by Angelina Boscarelli and Ollie Oakenshield. So how to approach a horror show for Halloween, without making it a scary step too far?
It's a consideration that is uppermost in their minds as they create The Hallowed, a promenade performance running for four nights in the heart of Tehidy Woods near Camborne. This ancient forested landscape has become something of a spiritual home for the company as they explore ways to reconnect us all with the natural world around us.
They have already staged four enchanting shows among the trees at Tehidy – Dancer and The Devil in the Woods, Winter Wood, King Arthur the Wild Hunt and, most recently, their Wild Woodland Summer Ball.
Their customary path has been to take the macabre parts of a story and illuminate them to make them more accessible and less scary, with song dance and spectacle paving the way.
This time, says Ollie, they are following a different set of rules.
Essentially The Hallowed will entice brave audiences into the woods within the "safe" confines of the theatrical spectacle they have come to expect, before a surprising twist leads them deeper into the realms of their own imagination and the wonder of an apparently waking dream in the company of ghosts.
"You can't underestimate people's fears and their own sense of enjoyment in their fears," observes Ollie. "It's about getting people to explore different levels of our humanity and the way we suppress ideas that come from superstition or instinct."
The Hallowed's foundations are firmly rooted in Tehidy's ancient history as a settlement. And the ghosts of three real brothers from the age-old Cornish family of Blythe – Francis, Sebastian and Josiah, who were alive in the time of the witchcraft trials of the 1700s – are employed to conjure and awaken the unsettled sleeping spirits of the woods.
"There's a crossroads where you meet a character with a warning message and things take a real twist as the family's history emerges," explains Ollie, who reveals that it echoes an experience he had while out trick-or-treating as a child.
The trial of women as witches is still a relevant theme in other parts of the world today; although it is not a political piece, Ollie says they are conscious of those references.
A suitably haunting original soundtrack, composed and played live by the talented Ben Sutcliffe of the People's String Foundation will further enrich the experience, along with Rogue's customary fire, fairy dust and fortifying refreshments.
The Hallowed is recommended for ages 14 and over. Performances take place at Tehidy Woods (use North Cliffs entrance) on October 30 (7.30pm and 9.15pm); October 31 (7.30pm, 9.15pm and 11pm); November 1 (7.30pm and 9.15pm); and November 2 (7.30pm, 9.15pm and 11pm). The event lasts around 80 minutes; bring a torch, a warm coat, wellies... and a brave heart.
Advance booking is advised – visit roguetheatre.co.uk.