IMAGINE a mash-up of Roald Dahl and The League Of Gentlemen.

Look no further than Odd Doll’s puppet horror show, Seaside Terror, when it fills the York Theatre Royal stage with nerve-shattering shocks on Saturday night.

Devised and first performed by York-born Kathleen Yore and Rebekah Caputo, Odd Doll’s seaside drama celebrates British horror and British holidays of the 1970s, bringing together a script by ghost storyteller Adam Robinson, puppetry, masks and specially composed music by Paul Mosley.

“We’re so excited to get our show in front of audiences,” says Kathleen, the company’s artistic director, who is joined by Rob Mackay for the tour. “We’re going to take people into a world of Evil Seagulls, Zombie Donkeys and Bingo Hairballs.

“The show has a lot of scares, a lot of laughs and some wonderfully wicked acts, as we create unforgettable memories for anyone who’s ever spent a rainy day on a British beach."

Just as Kathleen would have done when growing up in Long Marston, near York. “I went to All Saints RC School in York, when I spent much of my early days on buses going back and forth,” she recalls.

“It was funny at school because they were always holding services, so we were constantly at church and I was always performing in services doing weird voices. I remember seeing the withered hand of Margaret Clitherow [the York saint, who was pressed to death for refusing to enter a plea to the charge of harbouring Catholic priests]. That hand freaked us out, hence my creativity today!”.

Kathleen took her early theatrical steps with Douglas Waft, attending his famously free drama classes every Wednesday at Joseph Rowntree School, then studied drama, English and philosophy A-levels at York Sixth Form College before gaining first class honours in acting from Bretton Hall, the much-missed Yorkshire hotbed of so much talent.

“I think there’s a certain type of person that studied there; the League Of Gentlemen went there, for example, and we were encouraged to be creative, discovering your own way of working, becoming your own director." she says.

Kathleen detoured into working in health care, first at the special needs centre in Starbeck, Harrogate, but the artistic bug never left her, working alone as she made puppets in an abandoned building in Gipton, Leeds. “I was always thinking about making weird pieces of work, “ she recalls.

“I’d never done puppetry before so I slowly taught myself to make them, and even now, every puppet I make, I’m never entirely happy with it. Every project I do, I want them to be better, as there’s always the pressure that they have to be the thing that stands out.”

Kathleen had also accrued music-making and songwriting skills in her student days. “I played accordion in a bizarre and freaky circus band, and I remember performing at City Screen,” she says.

York Press:

Seaside shocker: York puppet maker Kathleen Yore revels in a tide of coastal horrors 

“We were called Madame Laycock And Her Dabeno Pleasures, and we toured all round Germany doing cabaret nights, when it was all about late nights, and a bit seedy, and for some reason the violinist was always wanting to play naked! It was one of those kind of bands!”

Move forward to 2012 when Odd Doll was formed in Leeds, since when the company has performed such adult shows as The Trick, Red Rust and now Seaside Terror, and one family show, The Worried Walrus, “all about being who you are, being who you want to be”.

"I chose the name Odd Doll because I just liked the way it looked, the way it sounded, and ‘doll’ is essentially a puppet: something that’s not alive but gives off the idea of being alive,” says Kathleen.

What drew her to horror? “My dad is a bit of a horror fan, so I grew up watching Tales Of The Unexpected; The Dark Crystal, the Jim Henson film. It gave me a bit of a taste for the slightly dark,” says Kathleen.

Seaside Terror emerged from researching vintage horror movies from the 1960s and 1970s that chimed with Odd Doll’s sinister but colourful aesthetic. “We were particularly drawn to the anthology ‘portmanteau’ movies made by Amicus Films. Titles such as Dr Terror’s House Of Horrors and Tales From The Crypt were camp, lurid and wilder than Dracula and Frankenstein,” says Kathleen. .

Seaside Terror features five different tales, linked by a sinister ice cream seller, as the show marries nostalgic horror with another British tradition, the seaside holiday, at the fictional Southpaw-on-Sea.

“It’s a show that people will either love or hate, because it’s weird and the horror is dark,” says Kathleen. “We have arcade machines that suck up little children; the Ice Cream Man is really creepy; we have the sad tale of the Zombie Donkeys, who get treated so badly on the beach, they commit suicide, then return each year to attack people with evil in their heart.”

Given how the spine-tingling Seaside Terror is played out against a backdrop of coastal towns that have seen better days, it is only right to finish by asking Kathleen how she spent childhood summer holidays. "We used to go to Blackpool and Butlins holiday camps, and they just had that creepy feel, when you know you’re supposed to be having a good time!" she says.

Odd Doll present Seaside Terror, York Theatre Royal Studio, Saturday, April 20, 7.45pm; suitable for age 12 upwards. Box office: 01904 623568 or at