Upon learning that Faceless Ventures’ latest production was a séance-centered event, we’ll be honest, we were a little cautious. We’ve attended a fair few shows in this category (good and bad) and, by their very nature, they tend to roughly follow the same path. Whilst ‘Is There Anybody There?’ doesn’t break free from a number of these tropes, it manages to throw enough fresh elements into the mix to not feel like a remix of another show.
First thing is that whilst everything leads up to the séance finale, the majority of the show is actually a ghost hunt. So, instead of being fixed in one location for the majority of the experience, the audience moves from room to room and, in each space, we’re searching for different ghosts using a variety of techniques. It’s a bit more than semantics as it lends the show a natural and spontaneous air – whilst there’s a hint of a plot before the show begins, there wasn’t any sense that there was a greater story at play until the final act. For the most part, we were just exploring a building searching for ghosts, just as the show’s blurb promised.
Guiding us through potential spiritual encounters was Victor Hughes. This character was another factor that distinguished the show from other experiences of the same ilk. He possessed an almost everyman demeanor, fostering the suspicion within us that maybe this whole event could be a fraud. We found him to be completely and utterly disarming – we weren’t sure how much of his presentation we were supposed to be taking seriously, especially knowing that Victor’s last public engagement ended in disaster. It was brilliantly acted to the point that this character was as much a part of the show as the activities he had us engaging in. There were also a few moments where we think things didn’t quite work the way that they were intended to but the way in which Victor handled them, coupled with the fact that his personality had been established in a certain manner had us doubting whether these moments were improvised or scripted.
Broken into three main scenes (or hunts), our favourite was the middle act, employing the use of pendulums. With the absence of special effects, this scene was totally mystifying. We were each handed a necklace that was supposed to move should there be a phantasmic presence and, sure enough, everyone’s pendulums began to swing! This was a fantastic addition to the show as it clearly wasn’t manipulated – some people’s were flying back and forth whereas others’ (like mine) were still moving but less dramatically. It was a smart scene to include as it involved everyone individually and the varying results gave credence to the happenings.
If the first scene was more about familiarising us with Victor than confronting ghosts and the middle scene was a really cool encounter with something paranormal then the third and final scene was where the plot became the focus and this was where the show stumbled slightly for us.
We appreciated the twist and enjoyed the séance but then the final moments really dragged. Not getting into specifics but the closing moments of the show required clear and direct participation from chosen audience members. When people weren’t forthcoming, the character pressing for this cooperation didn’t move on. This started to get a bit tiresome when it became clear that certain guests were unwilling to provide what was requested of them.
Fundamentally, we don’t think anything was wrong with the scene more than it was just saddled with an uncooperative crowd. With a different group, this section may have gone completely differently. It didn’t however and dealing with people potentially not playing ball should’ve been built into the scene. As it was, the character’s insistence did legitimately begin as intimidating but soon wore thin to the point that we were mentally willing people to answer him! We wonder whether the character providing a solid ultimatum to those not engaging with him might’ve prompted some sort of response, especially as his question was open-ended. Conceptually, it was a good idea and we also don’t think it should be changed, there just needed to be a succinct way of handling those who didn’t want to speak up.
All in all, ‘Is There Anybody There?’ managed to provide enough of a spin on the subgenre to feel fresh and, should it return, we would recommend attending, especially for those moments that aren’t simulated!
The character of Victor Hughes
The Pendulum scene
The closing part of the third scene.
Ticket Price: £12
Address: Mexborough Business Centre, College Rd, Mexborough S64 9JP
Is There Anybody There? - Faceless Ventures
'Is There Anybody There?' was a fun time with a unique character and some genuinely perplexing moments (we're still fascinated by those pendulums!). What's most impressive about the show is that it's day and night from the last event of theirs that we attended, Diary of a Deceased, demonstrating that Faceless Ventures really know what they're doing!