Review: Château Ghoul (LipService/Oldham Coliseum)

“Aside from a couple in Surrey, and Louise in London, the audience is a proper Northern powethouse”, say Brian and Brenda, our hosts for a virtual tour of the Château Ghoul.

Well, I may be in London now, but Oldham was my birthplace and where I spent my first two decades, so it is still ‘home’ in a way. It doesn’t mean I didn’t get a laugh from the mention of Brentford Nylons, the remains of which I have passed on quite a few occasions.

LipService are a female-led company who have brought the odd couple B&B to the fore for this live Zoom show, which stopped off at the Oldham Coliseum for a double dose last night.

Image from Château Ghoul by LipService

I joined the first one, observing the attempts of my fellow audience members to make an origami umbrella with a page of A4 paper and some scissors, and find the film titles from frankly obvious clues.

At fifty minutes, this light farce with interactive elements is set in a small hotel, rather like those you see in Four in a Bed. Proud of their run of middling awards (Best Tarmac Driveway), Brian and Brenda are a curious pair but completely recognisable if you have visited certain coastal resorts popular in the area.

Opening with the hotel’s website firing up on a Windows 98 desktop (complete with frames and garish fonts), Château Ghoul juggles live links, filmed inserts, and “ask the audience” moments.

With jokey references to the BSL interpreter, an invitation to “turn on the ghost” to get live transcription, and a virtual shopping basket which occasionally appears to collect ghoulish items en route, this show has lots of laughter and keeps you entertained.

Image from Château Ghoul by LipService

It’s all appealingly bonkers, and very Northern in its style of humour. Think of Ken Dodd crossed with The Comedians and Victoria Wood and you’ll get the idea. A technical snafu left one audience member uncomfortably spotlighted, but she hardly seemed to notice.

Very end of Blackpool Pier or Phoenix Nights, and if you appreciate either you’ll love Lip Service’s clever characterisations, sly digs at the supernatural, and the way the production is deliberately made to look ghastly in its construction.

Château Ghoul makes its next stop at CAST in Doncaster on 20-21 May: book here.

LipService are Maggie Fox and Sue Ryding, “literary lunatics”.

Image credit: LipService.

LouReviews received complimentary access to review Château Ghoul.