Review: Ghost About The House
Image: King's Head Theatre
Joshua Glenister - Ghost / Ian
Timothy Blore - Alex / Henry
Sioned Jones - Lady Millicent / Nita
Matt Gibbs - Richard / Eddie
Joe Wiltshire Smith - Owen / Lenoard
The same Islington house, at two time periods, with five actors playing two different but connected roles.
In 1936, approaching WW2, Ian, the young master, is in love with the butler, Leonard.
Eddie, an older friend of the family, seduces Ian but appears to be paying court to Lady Millicent.
Henry, Millicent's jealous and too young suiter plays a desperate hand.
In 2016 the young master is a ghost, haunting the lives and splitting the relationship of Edward and Alex.
Edward introduces Lenny, a young man he's picked up.
The mischievous ghost perceives a great likeness between Lenny and his long gone love.
Nita, Alex's sister, is a manic yummy mummy putting her foot in the few places left undamaged by the ghost.
Meanwhile, the dreaded Referendum approaches.
Ghost About the House is a hilarious, sexy, haunting gay play combining witty period dialogue, modern relationships and our current political uncertainty.
The idea of a ghost fetching up as a character in a play isn't (as the programme notes rightly point out) anything new.
Ghosts have materialised and de-materialised in all kinds of stage productions and also on TV and in films.
Since there's always the possibility that a ghostly spectre might just add some new dimension to a story - with comedic or chilling effects - the idea still has potential.
Sadly, Ghost About The House fails to deliver on that promise since there is no gripping or humorous new angle to justify the inclusion of a ghost, apart perhaps from the marginally novel fact that he happens to be gay.
Cast of Ghost About The House - photo by Bonnie Britain
The play is split between two different time periods.
In the near present day (the year of the EU referendum, to be precise) we find a gay couple who have split-up but still live together.
Ex-partner Richard has found a new love interest in the guise of young Owen and has brought him home.
The house is plagued by a ghost, distinguished from the rest of the cast in wearing just Y Fronts.
Back in the 1930s we find the ghost alive and well in the human form of Ian, the spoilt son of a rich "mumsie" called Lady Millicent.
War is looming, but there are already skirmishes of the romantic kind playing out in the house.
Eddie fancies Ian, but the latter rejects his advances since his romantic ambitions are firmly set on servant Leonard.
Some of the ghost's physical qualities don't seem to add-up either logically or from a scientific perspective, even if some aspects of quantum physics are also alarmingly odd.
It can't talk, but understands speech.
And though it can't be seen, it can trip people up, ring bells and switch on lights.
Still, maybe that's the extraordinary nature of apparitions.
Now this play could have worked on a comedic level if the script had provided plenty of gigglesome gay gags.
But really there are none to speak of.
On the other hand, the play could have delivered the comedy goods through eccentric or oddball characters.
But we don't get those either.
Without biting gay humour, inventive gags or really interesting, unusual or outrageous characters what we're left with is a pretty tame and lacklustre play that never capitalises on the contrived and potentially farcial situations.
And though there's a spark of humour in the final scene, the well-worn device of a ghostly central character surprisingly fails to ignite any real mirth in a vapid and limp concoction that turns out to be tediously dull.
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