Date: 16 october 2015
Fellswoop theatre have collaboration at their heart – working as a creative team consisting of a director, two performers and a musician – their main aspiration is to fully integrate the music with the drama so that it becomes a key character in the production. Ghost Opera is their latest show and part of the ‘Developed With The Lowry’ programme.
The story is led by the interaction between two strangers at a spa. She is staying at the spa and he is a pool boy who delivers fresh bottled water to her room. All of the action takes place in the spa bedroom. Both characters seem to be battling their own internal demons – the woman consumed by her feelings surrounding her dying mother and the boy with his obsession with singer Chet Eternity. Both characters play out a series of role plays where they either become ‘Julie’ by putting on a Ossie Clark style teal dress or ‘Chet’ by donning a short black jacket. These interactions between the two characters become increasingly blurred and more baffling throughout the play.
Ghost Opera is quite difficult to follow and understand although this is no reflection on the actors, Nina Logue and Hal Kelly, who are clearly very talented and are working very hard to create some kind of narrative.There is a need for a tighter directorial focus from Bertrand Lesca – some sections felt awkward and forced and I found myself getting distracted as I searched for a meaningful plot. However, Nina Scott’s japanese inspired set is effective and utilised well by the actors and Edmund McKay’s smooth lighting design moves through from ambient to haunting and from night to day with ease.
The musical score composed by Ben Osborn and Josephine Stephenson is expressive and menacing. Played by the Quatuor Van Kuijk string quartet, the powerful music certainly adds intensity to the production, though further confuses my understanding of the narrative as it can be an overwhelming presence at times.
I left The Studio at The Lowry feeling confused by Ghost Opera – certainly more cohesion and focus is needed to make the production more meaningful for the audience.
Ghost Opera is visiting the Bikeshed Theatre in Exeter from 20th – 24th October 2015 and then the New Diorama Theatre, London from 27th-31st October 2015 and Warwick Arts Centre on 4th November 2015.