You know pretty much from the beginning, when your locomotive smashes through a towering storybook, that this year’s Stanley Park Halloween Ghost Train is going to be a special one.
And believe us, the show titled Mother Goose’s Ghastly Garden delivers, with a darkly inspired, unified artistic vision and many more live theatrical performers than you’re used to seeing at the annual event.
Just prepare for the fact that you’re never going to look at those innocent nursery rhymes you read as a kid in the same way.
Think a goth Miss Muffet perched on a forest-filling web, a 10-foot-tall arachnid creeping up for a bite; a deranged Little Bo Peep who keeps popping up in the dark, hollering for her sheep; and a busted-up London Bridge in the mini-train's lake, complete with corpses floating in the water.
Yes, this is Mother Goose by way of the Brothers Grimm and F.W. Murnau, all linked together with an artful storybook-come-to-life (or would that be death?) aesthetic. The standouts? A high-concept interpretation of “Ring Around the Rosie”, with eerie projections on a graveyard and the grim reaper beckoning (you knew the rumour that the playground song had its origin in the Great Plague, didn't you?), and a peek-a-boo old-lady’s shoe with a brood of sinister, scarlet-haired imps running wild.
We don’t even want to tell you what fates befall Jack Sprat, Jack and Jill, and a small army of creepy doll rock-a-bye babies.
The Ghost Train rolls until November 1 (it’s closed on October 13 for Thanksgiving), and comes with the added draws of a skeleton-filled Spooky Barn, lantern-lit nature walks, and a pumpkin patch.