Apologies in advance here, a thought provoking play got me thinking about lots of different things.
Last chance to see Giving up the Ghost tonight at the Old Hairdressers at 7:30 p.m. don't read ahead yet though as there may be spoilers...
...well you were warned.
At first pass Giving up the Ghost offers us some thoughts on faith and belief and what can drive people towards the particular ethos they espouse. A clairvoyant, playing the reading game and seemingly an obvious con artist vs a sister who has fallen into religion to such an extent that she sees demons in all mankind's wrongdoing.
People are seeking answers to unanswerable questions, trying to seek motives and reason out of a person's desperate ending. It's a dark piece this play, one character is a returned suicide and the sisters' mother also turns out to have resorted to suicide when they were young. No hearbeat, no pulse but it is a play that is full of heart, a sadly shadowed hope that there may be more to life than meat and death and if there isn't, well maybe life can be a thing of joy and hope too.
Mary and Carrie are the two sisters (Mary Jo Hastie and Claudette Baker Park) charicatures of extremes in at the beginnign but also with a depth that the short play reveals as they reach the final quiet ending to the piece. The play does well not to judge, though in painting them at the extremes it is perhaps positing an indirect judgement on both, saying there is some answer in the middle ground.
Jess (Alice Restrick) is the daughter, love interest to the walking dead, caught up in a paperazzi storm and heavily overshadowed by her domineering mother. Enough of a teenager to rebel and sneak out but also with a depth of maturity to accept the loss of her first love.
And finally Dean James (Jay Newton), the boy returned from the dead, summoned by clairvoyant or ouija or some other power to step into the three lives of the living. Jay is laid back, the rock n roll rebel that inhabits the heart of all bands, but haunted by his past. We're never quite sure if he is simply blocking his past or if it genuinely does fall over him like the train wheels we hear echoed at the end of the first act. He finds a home and comfort, love to a degree though it is shaded by his fame as an undead, but then finds that the past of his ending haunts him and pulls him back. A sad parting where perhaps the audience was being lead to believe there was hope of him sticking around.
All the cast put in sterling performances and Anna Blainey's script does her story justice) though I must admit to being worried if folk are still calling for 2 exorcisms a week in this day and age, even in Glasgow's more demonic warrens).
As an aside, I was thinking about the stage and theatre and suspension of disbelief. It's a common conceit in theatre to have people on different parts of the stage be in different "places", though to us, the audience, they rest within the same frame of reference and form parts of the whole story. Often these separate places serve as a point and counterpoint, interwoven to tell the tale. Our suspension of reality ceases to perceive people gathered but apart, instead seeing people apart, gathered. If we tell ourselves a good enough story our perception of the world and the people in it divides into distinct parts, home, work, us, them, white, black, blue, green, your tribe, my tribe... and thus we forget the stage upon which the story is set, we forget that these are just threads in the whole skein, that it's all part of a greater whole, that the couple sat on the wall and saying a fond farewell are every bit as important as the sisters' weeping reconcilliation.
Butterfly with a Bomb are a small theatre company based in Glasgow. Worth keeping an eye out for future productions as writer and actors develop their craft further.