‘Ghost Writer’ reviewed by Gordon the Optom

by December 3, 2013

‘Ghost Writer’ is a very funny, haunting, farcical whodunit by David Tristram. Tristram, who was born in Dudley in the West Midlands, was a copywriter until his mid-twenties. He formed a theatre company, before writing a couple of dozen very successful plays.

This two-hour play can be seen at The Harbour Theatre, within the Port Cineaste Building, 70 Adelaide Street, Fremantle at 8.00 pm on a Wednesday, Friday or Saturday night until 14th December. There is a Sunday matinee at 2.00 pm on the 8th December.

The scene is an unkempt, run-down attic flat in central London.

       We join a dishevelled mystery playwright, Edward (Jarrod Buttery – who successfully took over this major part after the rehearsals had begun) who is sitting at a desk, swigging on a bottle of booze in a desperate attempt to clear his writer’s block and come up with a worthwhile story.

      Since the death of his wife, Ruby (Meredith Hunter) at a house party a year earlier, life has been tough and Edward has moved into a spare attic flat belonging to his best friend, gay actor, Alex (Andy Markland). In an attempt to get some life back into his friend, Alex has done Edward a huge favour by fixing him up with a blind date. The meeting with shy Glenda (Grace Hitchin) is later in the week; however, that night Edward is awoken by the ghost of his wife begging him to find out who had killed her. The Coroner determined that it had been ‘death by misadventure’ but she insists that she was murdered.

       Edward calls in the assistance of a couple of his old acting friends, Frances (Ann Speicher) an acting legend – in her own mind – and her alcoholic, acting ham husband, Hedley (Norm Heath) who has a delicate ‘secret’. They are asked to take part in a play reading of his new script. However, when Ruby turns up at the gathering, trouble breaks out.

How often are we promised a funny, rib-tickling night out and instead see a corny, ‘flat’ play? This time the award-winning directors Peter Kirkwood and Nicola Bond, yet again, deliver in full. The script is crammed with laugh aloud lines, delivered perfectly by a skilled cast flawlessly tuned to the style of comedy.

There are a couple of drunks in the play, with very different styles. Often, actors portraying drunks can be an embarrassment to watch, but these two actors (Norm and Grace) retain great timing and subtlety, whilst being physically abused! Norm’s vacant and confused presentation of Hedley was extremely funny.

The characters are fresh and very different. The cast has squeezed every bit of humour from their script. Meredith Hunter, with her ‘bad hair day’ and glorious gown (Aileen Lewis), was hilarious as the annoying ghost, who could disappear at one side of the stage and rematerialize seconds later at the other wing!

Stage manager Shareen Ghani and assistant David Champion had some tricky prop movements and effects to operate. The set as always at the Harbour, was of the best quality (Brian Mahoney and Harry Schultz – amongst others). The roof top view from the window was exceptional artwork (Melissa Bassett, Beth Law). Rob Tagliaferri operated Peter Kirkwood’s lighting design and Vanessa Gudgeon designed and operated the sound, both had tricky cues, but never missed a beat.

The whole cast was wonderful, the pace perfect and the audience loved this madcap show. Indeed, as the promotion states, may well be ‘the funniest show you will see all year!’ The Harbour team at their very best.