Mainstage review: ‘Ghosts’

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Rob Sherron, Contributing Writer

The Place: a set that surpasses even Machinal’s Stagimus Prime in terms of a technically wondrous effect. Of special note is the lighting, featuring the most wonderfully depressing sunrise this writer has ever seen.

The Players: When playing off of Kate Chiappe, Seamus Young is one note as Engstrand: creepy. When interacting with the rest of the cast, he transforms into a perfect mass of cunning, sliminess and villainy. Chiappe herself delights with her at times hilarious, at times heartbreaking performance as Regina. Paul Fojut’s Pastor Manders is the weakest link; it would take a Herculean effort to make Manders not only irritating (a note which he pulls off impeccably), but also interesting, and Fojut is merely a Jason.

In his first major role, Aidan Malone surprises with a brilliant rendition of doomed Osvald; he carries the man’s pain with a great subtlety, until all his anger finally comes tumbling out. Unfortunately, his rage as Osvald, The Tragic Artist drowns out Osvald, The Selfish Manipulator, resulting in a more sympathetic but less complex character.

Finally, we come to Skyler Patton. When I spoke to director Kyle Lemieux last week, he asserted that Alving was one of the most desired (and implicitly, one of the most interesting) female roles in theater. I found this quite dubious. Ms. Patton proved me completely, utterly wrong. The audience feels both Alving’s strength and her ultimate despair in Patton’s incredible performance.

The Plot: Act 1 suffers as Fojut and Patton do not play well off each other. One feels that it is the actors’, rather than the characters’ chemistry which is truly awkward, as they occasionally step on each other’s cues. Act 2 is a brilliant roller coaster.

The Silence: Most fascinating of all is when the conversations stop. As Patton noted in the first talk-back, it is in silence that the unseen sixth player, the Father, is most felt. The aforementioned wondrous effect (which I will not be spoiling here), causes these silences to be filled with a disquiet murmuring, making his presence even more tangible – until, when his last hold on this earth is thrown off, his trickling voice, though not the scars it created, finally vanishes.

The Point: Ghosts is the kind of mainstage we have come to expect; expertly crafted and acted, intensely thought-provoking and a joy to experience. Go see it before it vanishes on Nov. 10.

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