IN A time of year when people are feeling festive and jovial, last night the Haymarket Theatre was turned into a much more sinister place.

Greeted by a very dimly lit stage and not much else, there was an eerie tension in the air before the start of last night’s performance of Shivers.

The play, written and performed by Adam Z. Robinson, takes the audience on a chilling journey through three haunting tales, each more gruesome than the last.

To make things just that little bit more creepy, the only person to accompany Robinson on stage was violinist Ben Styles, whose playing accentuates the fear in the stories being told.

Robinson comes on stage looking like a man dragged in from the cold streets of Basingstoke holding a tattered old book, which he informs the audience is the Book of Darkness and Light and that he has been sentenced to walk the Earth telling its unnerving tales.

As each story began, there were subtle changes in Robinson’s demeanour and posture, which signified to the crowd that this was a new character.

From the story of ‘The New Priest of Black Pines’ to the brilliantly told ‘A Horror in Porcelain’, Robinson’s dramatic performance accelerates as the stories he is telling further unravel.

As an observer, you are so engrossed in the words coming from Robinson’s mouth that you forget about Styles’ presence, making him the perfect foil to the creepiness created.

Shivers is sinister, yet fun at the same time. Robinson is clearly steeped in Gothic film and literature, which oozes out in his own work as he commands the stage, capturing the strange combination of the cosy and the horrifying that make ghost stories so pleasurable – even including the use of shining a torch on his face.

For a show that was attended with pure curiosity, it left this reviewer wanting more tales from the Book of Darkness and Light.