THERE are so many jokes to be had at the expense of the Witch Pricker, the character who, along with Agnes Finnie, the city’s baddest witch, sits at the heart of Edinburgh Dungeon’s latest frightfest.
Meeting him at the press night of Witch Hunt, I couldn’t help reflect that the visitor attraction has come a long way since first welcoming the brave and timid alike to its original premises on Shandwick Place.
More than a decade ago it made the move to its current subterranean home on Market Street, where you can once again walk the streets of 17th century Auld Reekie, streets that have just undergone a £500,000 refurbishment but still retain the venues signature boat ride and Dead Drop, the intention of the latter is to give you the sensation of being hanged - in reality it is much more fun.
Not that the thought of plummeting towards the ground didn’t strike fear into the heart of one of our party before we even reached it.
Another three chickened out after being locked into their seats. Fearties.
But then, that’s what the Dungeon does best, it makes fear fun.
It’s creepy and spooky, although the staff would like you to know it’s also ‘sexy, clever and charming’.
They would say that though as it’s the staff, a troupe of engaging actors, who make the Dungeon the success it is.
Without their total commitment to the grotesques they inhabit it wouldn’t be half as scary and half as entertaining.
From The Judge who welcomes you and sets the tone of what is to come (there’s lots of laughter and audience participation) to a darkly funny encounter with The Torturer and her eye-watering contraptions.
That, in turn, leads to a spine-tingling audience with the Witch Pricker and Agnes herself.
To say anymore would spoil the surprise - always a problem when writing about the Dungeon. So no spoilers, but suffice to say, there were more than a few screams along the way.
The Gaoler is the next harbinger of terror waiting to greet the unsuspecting. It’s a brief affair culminating in the first ride of the night, a trip on a ‘very fast’ boat into Sawney Bean territory. Actually, for ‘very fast’ read snail’s pace - it’s all part of the charm.
The tale of Sawney Bean has long been a favourite of the Dungeon. It’s hard to remember a time when the East Lothian cannibal has not featured, and it’s still a highlight.
Likewise, Dr Knox’s Anatomy Theatre remains, albeit with new tricks up its sleeve.
And so, having also stumbled across Burke and Hare in a graveyard, heard the chilling tale of the Green Lady, as well as taking a stroll along the Street of Sorrows, you come to the aforementioned Dead Drop, after which The Labyrinth, a good old-fashioned Hall of Mirrors, brings the tour to a close. It’s guaranteed to bring out the child in even the most hardened sceptic. Fancy a visit? Go to www.thedungeons.com/edinburgh for details.