Perception and reality are not always the solid things we presume them to be. Playwright Michael Hollinger works on this theme in his 2010 play “Ghost-Writer,” which opened September 28 at Marietta’s Theater on the Square. If it has been a while since you have indulged in the cultural treat that is live theater, consider making the journey to Marietta to enjoy this outstanding production.
Directed by Jessica Phelps West, the play “Ghost-Writer” has a compact cast of three actors. Elisa Carlson portrays the typist Myra Babbage, the plays protagonist. She is accompanied by only two performers. Peter Tamm plays the celebrated writer Franklin Woolsey, and Ellen McQueen completes the cast as the writer’s wife, Mrs. Vivian Woolsey.
The premise for the Ghost-Writer is that Franklin Woolsey has died, and Myra Babbage has continued typing his last novel as if he were dictating it to her from beyond the grave. Set in 1919, but relying heavily on flashbacks, the tail unfolds of Woolsey and Babbage coming closer and closer together over the years she works for him, and of Mrs. Woolsey’s growing sense of loss and apparently betrayal.
The audience is drawn into this intimate tale mostly through the measured and balanced performance by Elisa Carlson. Though she might share the stage with the talented Peter Tamm and riveting Ellen McQueen, there is no doubt who actually owns this show. This is nearly a one-woman show, and if her performance as Myra were lacking, the play would fall apart. But this not the case. Indeed she owns her performance, breathing life into the character and adding dimensions to the character as Myra grows closer to Woolsey over the years.
Leaving the theater, one wrestles with the feeling that source material was not up to the level of the directors and the actors. There was a sense at times that it was a clumsy, but redeemed by and excellent production. It was interesting that earliest segments of the play—there are no acts or scenes in the traditional sense – were light and comical, and played that way. As the play progressed, especially as it approached the denouement, the tone became darker. Carlson managed the slow shift in tone admiralty, yet in a critical moment an audience member laughed at a dark and tragic scene. I could not see any fault in the performances, but did see issue with the script leading towards humor early, and undercutting its own drama later in the play.
The Backstage Beat recommends that if you have not indulged in the treat of live theater, pamper yourself and get to “GhostWriter” at the Marietta Theater on the Square. The play runs to October 30, 2011.
Fri 8pm & Sun 2:30pm
Wed 2:30pm (10/26/11 only)
No 7 pm performance on Sun 10/30/11)
Sun 9/25 7pm & Tues 9/27 8pm
$24 / $21 groups*, Tues – Thurs 8pm & Sun 7pm
$28 / $25 groups*, Fri 8pm & Sun 2:30pm
$33 / no group discount, Sat 8pm
$20 / $17 groups*, Wed 2:30pm (10/26/11 only)
(*12 or more required for a group
-group discounts NOT available through internet sales)
Theatre in the Square
11 Whitlock Ave.
Marietta, GA 30064
Box office: (770) 422-8369
Admin: (770) 422-8369