Starting this year, we’re having members of Arden Drama School’s Teen Company review our main stage productions. These teenagers have already shown an interest in theatre and the Arden as long-time participants in our drama classes. However, we aren’t censoring what they write and we encourage their honest critiques in their own words! Here’s the first review; be on the lookout for more in 2011.
By Charlie Crawford
Michael Hollinger’s Ghost-Writer is like a well-written book. In the show, each individual involved provides one of many critical chapters that come together to tell a fantastic story. Some of those involved have a bigger part to do, but if one piece were missing, it would fall apart. Fortunately, everyone involved in Ghost-Writer does his or her job well and they make the show enjoyable.
Myra Babbage, played by Megan Bellwoar, is a typist who is recommended to Franklin Woolsey, played by Douglas Rees. They become an exemplary writing duo as they get to know each other. As they work together more and more, she begins to predict what he will dictate. Their relationship grows closer than most marriages. Bellwoar and Rees portray the relationship seamlessly. The two are very comfortable on stage and their interaction is real. The two are frequently interrupted in their work by Mrs. Woolsey, played by Patricia Hodges, who constantly wants to socialize, check up, or receive typing lessons. Each actor is deserving of praise, but Bellwoar is the core of the show. She never leaves the stage, is always engaged with another character, and never receives a break.
The work done behind the scenes is also deserving of credit. David Gordon makes a stage that creates a different perspective for each audience member that is enjoyably perplexing. Costumer Charlotte Cloe Fox Wind creates several wonderfully extravagant costumes for Mrs. Woolsey. The lighting, done by Jerold R. Forsyth and the sound design, done by Jorge Cousineau are appropriately synchronized and make for very dramatic moments. This is all done under the direction of James Christy who has done an excellent job of directing on stage and off stage.
The show eventually takes a surreal turn where neither the audience nor Bellwoar can understand what is real and what is not. The audience gets lost along with Bellwoar and has a difficult time coming back to reality. This is all enhanced by the lighting, a fascinating stage, and sound work that makes the show truly feel like it’s in the early 1900’s. Throughout the show, Bellwoar references a non-existent person in the audience. The audience is fairly sure that he does not exist, but many glance backwards just to check. This is what makes Ghost-Writer so noteworthy, an excellent script, precise technical work, and skilled actors. Ghost-Writer is an affecting, thought-provoking opening for the Arden seasons. Besides young children, all audiences will be entertained by Ghost-Writer, especially finicky English teachers.