Edinburgh Fringe 2011
This one-man show is a short piece in which the script read by a voice actor seems to have its own ideas about what he should be reading. Based on a short story written by Lynne Truss of “Eats, Shoots and Leaves” fame, it leaves a little to be desired.
An actor arrives at a radio studio to record a ghost story. It is late and he is the only person in the studio, and his director talks to him remotely from elsewhere, unheard by us. The recording proceeds – but the actor’s script has some strange differences from the master copy. More and more discrepancies creep in until it becomes apparent that some supernatural force is at play.
The play is very well acted, Martin Miller has a very listenable voice and is very convincing as a slightly irate voice-over artist. It is cleverly written and conceived of and includes some moments of gentle humour. Videography and sound are well-utilised to build the scenario and atmosphere. The problem is that one man standing at a podium, telling a story to make a recording does not make for compelling theatre to watch, and the use of video doesn’t do enough to enhance the static nature of the bulk of this play. The ghostly elements don’t take hold quite enough to allow a truly scary atmosphere to sink in. Only 30 minutes long, it feels rather insubstantial and fairly unsatisfying, managing only to set up the supernatural twist, before ending abruptly, without allowing a dénouement to play out.
This play lacks an inherent theatricality, and would probably be better suited to film or even a radio play format – which would have a satisfying self-reflexivity to it. The ghost story that forms the bulk of the play is quite interesting in itself, and I would have liked to hear a bit more of it (who doesn’t love a good ghost story?), though it has a few too many names and places to keep track of – which, coupled with the lack of visual stimulation means that it is all the easier to disengage. But listening intently is rewarded, as the twist is a worthwhile and original one.