The British Ghost Stories of M R James Bring a Seasonal Shiver to New York and Washington, DC

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This Halloween, Robert Lloyd Parry performs the tales of M R James--thought by many to be the finest English ghost story author--on the East Coast.

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This Halloween, Robert Lloyd Parry brings the tales of M R James--thought by many to be the finest English ghost story author--to the East Coast. Lloyd Parry's critically acclaimed one-man performance recreates James' storytelling ambience as it was in King's College, Cambridge, over 100 years ago.    

"Oh, Whistle and I'll Come to You, My Lad"--a tale of the Suffolk coast-- is often called the author's masterpiece. It is complemented by "The Ash Tree"." Parry's other show, A Pleasing Terror, includes "Canon Alberic's Scrap-book" and "The Mezzotint."

Every Christmas, Montague Rhodes (M R ) James (1862-1936) would write and perform new tales, to entertain friends in his rooms in King's College, Cambridge. A century later, these still have a special power to terrify and amuse using words alone. Lloyd Parry's staging and interpretation provides an opportunity to experience these eerie confections in the manner in which they were originally enjoyed.

"I try to evoke the tone and atmosphere of James' original performances," says Lloyd Parry. "Reticence and suggestion are important weapons in James' armoury, so the staging, the lighting and the delivery are straightforward--and, one hopes, all the more chilling for that."

About the Performer:
Robert Lloyd Parry is a Cambridge-based actor, playwright, and art historian. His youthful passion for the ghost stories of M R James was rekindled when he began working at the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge, where James was Director in the early 1900s. He has since performed the tales to critical success in the US and Europe.    In 2008, Lloyd Parry's "Oh Whistle..." won Britain's Hamilton Deane Award for best dramatic Gothic presentation (previously won by Guillermo del Toro for Pan's Labyrinth.)

Ticketing and Press information:
For press information in New York please contact Robert Lloyd Parry at roblloydparry @ hotmail.com

In Washington, please contact Sarah Forbey at evangeline01 @ ymail.com or 202-306-7234.

New York - 78th Street Theatre Lab:
"Oh, Whistle..." plays Wednesdays through Saturdays at 7:30 PM, October 22 through November 8, 2008.    
"A Pleasing Terror" plays at 10:00 PM on Friday, October 24, 31 and November 7, 2008.

All single show tickets are $20. Friday Double Feature tickets and group discounts are available. To reserve tickets (cash), call (212)362-0329, or visit https://the-open-book1.ticketleap.com for credit card purchases. For assistance, contact Stephen Sunderlin at 212-799-3753

78th Street Theatre Lab is located at 236 West 78th Street, just east of Broadway.

Washington, DC - The Corner Store Theatre:
Monday, November 3 and Tuesday, 4 November 4, 2008 at 7:30pm
The Corner Store Theatre, http://www.cornerstorearts.org
900 South Carolina Ave, SE at Eastern Market metro
Washington D.C. 20003
Tickets: $15 in advance and $20 at the door; ticket includes wine and hors d'oeuvres reception.
Box Office: 1-202-544-5807

Watch excerpts of Robert Lloyd Parry performing three segments of "A Pleasing Terror" at http://www.youtube.com, keword: nunkietheatreUSA

Press Reviews

  • "Riveting… wonderful, magical storytelling. A reminder that the spoken word can be as spine-chilling as anything in the cinema."

The Daily Mail

  • "Lloyd Parry is always absorbing."

The Times

  • "A beautifully modulated performance perfectly judged to send an enjoyable chill down the spine."

Metro

  • "Restores the charm and pleasure of the tales."

Cambridge Evening News
About M R James:
Author Montague Rhodes James, an eminent medieval scholar, first performed the stories to friends at King's College, Cambridge, where he was a fellow and later Provost.

The following was written by Christopher Frayling about "A Pleasing Terror":    
"Imagine the scene. The choir of King's can be heard singing Once in Royal David's City. The muffled, black-gowned figures of the senior members of College - a mass of fluttering draperies - are walking across the lawn towards the great Chapel. It is the end of a Michaelmas term in the first decade of the twentieth century. And in the Provost's candle-lit suite of rooms, Monty James is hurriedly putting the finishing touches to one of his tales….and now, by the light of a single candle, Monty is performing his story - the ink still wet on the page - to a group of undergraduates, dons, visiting fellows and a chaplain.

He evidently enjoys his power to unsettle people, to make their flesh creep, in a completely untheatrical way. He also enjoys putting on the accent of a Cockney or a Suffolk tradesman for the non-academic characters. The atmosphere isn't intense and religiose - far from it - it is like a party for very clever children, all dressed in evening clothes and swapping Latin phrases or obscure bibliographical references.

The claret-cup is circulating, as is a plate of anchovy toast and a box of snuff. Like the wine, Monty's prose has a vintage, old world, rich and fruity quality to it. The stories - with their understatements, their withholding of unnecessary information, their antiquarian settings which are shattered by the arrival of a visceral demon, and their lonely bachelor scholars a little too smug for their own good - were intended to be savoured in the same way."

Lloyd Parry described the stories of M R James in The Daily Telegraph:
"Over one hundred years ago, the Chitchat Society convened their 601st meeting, in the Dean's rooms of King's College, Cambridge. At previous get-togethers, this confraternity of Old Etonians had played poker, eaten anchovy toast and listened to undemanding scholarly papers.    But the host on that evening of October 28, 1893 had a different agenda. The simple entry in the society's minute book records a cardinal moment in the history of supernatural literature: M R James read two ghost stories. The first tale James performed that night was eventually published as "Canon Alberic's Scrapbook".

All the elements that made him so original and powerful a storyteller are here. The droll, donnish details - the Latin phrases, the biblical and art historical references - lend such entertaining authority. And a gnawing sense of unease, a steady accumulation of sounds, shadows and images finally meet in a single moment of sensational physical horror."

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Sarah Forbey

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