GHOST-WRITER presented by Ensemble Theatre of Cincinnati through Oct 30. You can read the show description here.
If I had to give you one reason to go see GHOST-WRITER, the choice would be easy: Annie Fitzpatrick as Myra Babbage. But it’s the strength of the show as a whole that places GHOST-WRITER on my list of favorite productions of the 2011-2012 season.
Regarding Fitzpatrick as Babbage, it is my favorite performance by the actress to date. She makes it very easy to like and admire Myra Babbage, the devoted secretary to novelist, Franklin Woolsey. Her performance is finely-nuanced and I really enjoyed the society-restrained energy of the character. Since this is Babbage’s story, Fitzpatrick never leaves stage for the entire 90 minutes. Also impressive is the sheer volume of dialogue. And as a friend and I half-joked, it would have been much easier for Annie to highlight the lines that aren’t hers in her script.
Under the direction of D. Lynn Myers, Fitzpatrick also receives strong support from Dennis Parlato as novelist Franklin Woolsey and Lourelene Snedeker as his wife, Vivian. Parlato’s stoic performance works well for the character and allows him to easily be a presence, even if he is not present. Snedeker is outstanding as the wife threatened by a relationship that is, in ways, more intimate than her marriage.
I enjoyed the language of the script. How it evoked the time-period and the attitudes of that time. The structure of the play works well, allowing the audience to see the story…funny, the structure is similar to several biography television shows. A present day (in this case, Nov. 1919) interview inter-cut with flashback scenes of pivotal moments of the story. It adds a contemporary-influence to a show that begins over a century ago.
Even though the set demands for the show are minimal, I really enjoyed the choices Brian c. Mehring made in his design. My favorite element was the “visible to the audience” room door. It opened up the space and gave some nice options for staging and lighting. Also on the technical side, excellent sound design work from Matthew Callahan.
The period setting of the play would not be complete without properties by Shannon Rae Lutz and costumes by Erin Amico.
Bottom line, don’t let the show title fool you. This wonderfully-done production of GHOST-WRITER is more love story than ghost story. One that I enjoyed hearing, and seeing.
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