Will and the Ghost

Black Box at The Bakehouse Theatre. 16 Aug 2012

Venturing out in wind and rain I was glad that Will and the Ghost at 55 minutes was the shortest of the three plays about or by William Shakespeare currently on the boards in Adelaide.

The plot revolves around the arrogant Will, still trying to establish himself as a writer but falling short, having been mugged outside a pub and being saved by a mysterious black cloaked stranger supposedly an out of work actor. Of course the audience soon realises there is a deeper metaphysical explanation behind the action. What follows is an animated dialogue between Will and The Ghost and the beginning of the transformation of Will, a desperate plagiariser of works by Kyd and Marlow, into the great playwright that he became.

Two fine performances by John Maurice as The Ghost who strikes a Faustian bargain with Will, and David Hirst as Will. Both actors play around admirably with the fusion of period and modern language and libera the doses of well loved Shakespearean quotes. There is strong and clear tension between them although I felt that Will is portrayed as being a bit dull at times and never quiet twigging that he is in the presence of a superior being. Maybe too much ale has passed his lips. Itʼs a mystery.

Director, Lucy Markiewicz has brought a strong combination of performance drama and comedy together and the first night audience enjoyed the theatrical in-jokes through the production.

The set by Christy and Lucy Markiewicz is elegantly practical, suitably Elizabethan, and gives maximum stage space for the actors to bring full life to the characters. The lighting design by Kate Jackman is simple but effective and lighting changes signalling shifts of reality are operated with finesse.

My one criticism lies with the writing (script by Aoise Stratford) and the apparent lack of a clear light bulb moment in Willʼs head where he understands the gift that the black cloaked stranger has given him. For me the final resolution was lessened by its absence.

Nonetheless, a fine Winterʼs tale told in a warm space on a bleak night. Well worth seeing and a worthy start to the Black Box at The Bakehouse series.

When: 15 - 25 August
Where: Bakehouse Theatre
Bookings: bakehousetheatre.com