The Legend of the Ghost Shark, in performance at the great 24:7 theatre festival, is described as a surreal comedy using psychological themes to explore the writing process, censorship, fear of the subconscious and the often untapped power of storytelling.
The piece is entertaining enough, though I expected more comedy. In the end I didn’t really care what happened to the central character.
The central character Jason is a restaurant reviewer, a food writer in Confidential terminology. He’s not satisfied with this; presumably he believes he has a novel inside him. Instead of getting on with it through some candle burning he enters into a sub-Faustian contract with the local shaman, Lucifer, and summons up a muse to assist. As Jason’s a man the muse is an attractive young woman wearing a short outfit and a pair of impossibly stunning shoes which must be on the shortlist for the film of ‘Fifty Shades’.
Jason wears pink crocs. He’s just not really capable of making good choices, except for his choice of wife, an efficient and supportive doctor who brings him coffee and tolerates his uninvisible ‘invisible friend’, muse Wendy.
The acting is sharp and performances strong. Christopher Brett as Jason is sufficiently indecisive, Iona Thanger as the inexplicably-named muse, Wendy, enters the spirit to narrate the legend. Alison Darling is a sharp-worded sharp-minded New York style editor Jacqueline whose strident accent cuts across the fantasy and Victoria Brazier manages to bring some life to Catherine, the doctor-wife role.
James Nickerson’s Lucifer is played with urbane charm and more than a hint of menace while the good cop / bad cop duo Conway and Morello, played by Tony De Angelis and James Kerr, provide many of the laughs.
Writer Anthony Morgan crosses multiple genres to bring his ideas to life. The piece probably contains fantasy-legend keynotes that were lost on me. It’s certainly surreal and there are some good laugh out loud moments. Director Charlie Mortimer ensures that performances have pace and maintain interest.
The piece is entertaining enough, though I expected more comedy. In the end I didn’t really care what happened to the central character. If the play aims to explore the writing process and communicate its tortures as well as its delights then there’s more work to do.
The 24:7 Theatre Festival runs from 20 - 27 July. More than 70 performances will take place over eight Festival days in New Century House – head office of The Co-operative – and Three Minute Theatre, in Affleck’s Palace. Find more information, show times and how to book tickets (£8 / £6) at: www.247theatrefestival.co.uk
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