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Short but perfectly formed (TV) theatre: Ghost Story

Ghoststory1 Yep it's surely a West End Whingers-approving 45-minutes long but that's not to get the boys out to Hammersmith's Riverside Studio's but because Mark Ravenhill's Ghost Story is part of the Sky Arts Live Playhouse season. There is a short run of conventional performances by way of a warm up/rehearsal and then it's filmed and broadcast live, so armchair theatre-lovers can enjoy.

It's a great idea and one of a series of five newly-commissioned short plays in the season. (I'm hoping to catch Hens next week).

And presumably because of the TV element it's helped to attract great acting talent of the likes of Juliet Stevenson, Leslie Manville and Lyndsey Marshall. In Ghost Story, Lisa's (Stevenson) cancer has returned and she turns to healer Meryl (Manville) for help. Marshall plays Hannah, Meryl's lover.

It's about the lies we tell each other under the guise of protecting feelings and the lies we tell ourselves as coping mechanisms. Naturally there are some moving moments. I was waiting for the full on Truly Madly Deeply-snot crying that I always associate Stevenson with but the tears were more subdued which was  probably more appropriate.

The script is also funny in places, in a dark sort of way, which appeals to my sense of humour. Fortunately I wasn't the only person who laughed which is always encouraging on more levels than one.

The 45-minute running time certainly gave it a snappy pace. I think the lighting needs refining a little. Poly, my theatre-buddy for the evening, and I both problems with it, albeit minor. Poly thought it a little too bright but put this down the lighting conditions required for the forthcoming live TV broadcast.

For me, towards the end of the play when all three characters are on stage but representing different time lines, the spots flick on and off characters as they 'come into' the scene. Maybe it's because for purposes of brevity the story needs to rattle on quickly but it occasionally it felt like some one was flicking a light switch on and off on too rapidly. Maybe these things will be refined the closer it gets to broadcast.

Overall it's a great piece of short theatre and manages to pack a lot into it's 45 minutes including superb performances from the cast.

There don't appear to be any other reviews for me to link to (if you find any do let me know) so you'll have to take my word for it.