Casting the Runes for Halloween

Classic chiller to be performed in Stourbridge and Birmingham.

This Halloween, NeuNoir theatre presents Casting The Runes, a strange tale of the occult written by the acknowledged master of the supernatural, M.R. James – which visits Stourbridge Town Hall on Saturday 28th October and Birmingham Back To Backs on Sunday 29th October.

A rambling research paper, written by the mysterious fringe occultist and alchemist Karswell, is swiftly rejected by an esoteric society’s learned specialist, Edward Dunning, for being “perfectly hopeless”. But those who dismiss the twisted Karswell always pay a dear price – as Dunning quickly discovers when a curiously inscribed piece of paper suddenly appears in his possession.

With previous critic found dead in troubling circumstances, is Dunning cursed to follow a similar fate?

The son of a rector, writer Montague Rhodes James (1862-1936) spent much of his life in academia – at King’s College, Cambridge, and Eton. Though a highly regarded medieval scholar, it’s his expertly crafted supernatural stories for which he is today best remembered.

Often described as the greatest of all ghost story writers, James redefined the genre with a series of ground-breaking shorts – many of which were read aloud to gatherings of friends. Strong on atmosphere and with contemporary settings, his terrifying tales were designed to chill. Forgoing Gothic cliches and lengthy expositions, he exploited the over-active imaginations of his readers, cleverly leaving them to ponder the horror of the situations he threw his unprepared protagonists into.

Casting The Runes was first published in James’ second collection, 1911’s More Ghost Stories, and is widely considered his best work. The story of a demonic curse, it was famously adapted into a film in 1957 (retitled Night Of The Demon) – with a line of dialogue from the movie later finding its way into Kate Bush’s The Hounds Of Love.

Read by actor Richard Usher (Sweet Cherry Publishing’s Sherlock Holmes audiobooks; BBC Radio; The Lost Hancocks: Vacant Lot), Casting The Runes is the third production from NeuNoir, whose previous spooky outings have included readings of WH Hodgson’s Carnacki: The Ghost Hunter and EF Benson’s The Outcast.

NeuNoir presents M.R. James’ Casting The Runes visits Stourbridge Town Hall, Stourbridge, on Saturday 28th October and Birmingham Back To Backs on Sunday 29th October. For tickets and more information, see