TW Kira May Samu Philip Hayden and Gabriel Cali in Ghosts photo by Daniel RabinTheatre Works’ production of Ibsen’s Ghosts is an exquisitely detailed and nuanced work of theatre that sadly muddles far too much in the grandiose and settles for style over substance.

A hot and somewhat secluded town gives away to a myriad of townsfolk, each dissecting secrets that lurk in the past and truths that have forced a way into the present.

From the outset it is clear that Jodi Gallagher’s adaptation leaves little room for pathos or subtle moments of naturalism, erring however on a heavy handed approach to the work and an agenda that doesn’t quite capture the world these characters inhabit.

Laura Iris Hill, Philip Hayden, Gabriel Cali, Oliver Cowen and Kira May Samu breathe what little life they are permitted to into painfully one dimensional characters. More often than not the ensemble is either cast adrift, left to aimlessly wonder the stage with odd affectation or interact with forced monotone delivery of dialogue that confounds more that it enlightens.

Steven Mitchell Wright directs the work with an iron grip and laser sharp vision, leaving little to no room for a cohesive narrative due to such a singular vision. Interest is always piqued when entering into the mind of a creative, however audience considerations should always be factored into the storytelling, otherwise we are left with individuals just saying meaningless words on stage.

Steven Mitchell Wright’s impressively multifaceted set looms large in the space, perfectly complemented by Ben Hughes’ lighting, and Leahannah Ceff’s evocative sound which serve as the dramaturgical focus of the production and propel the work to dazzling heights.

Ambition can only take this work so far before the inevitable realization is made that somewhere along the way, this work stopped being made for an audience and became solely about personal creative gain.

Theatre Works, 14 Acland Street, St Kilda
Performance: Saturday 1 June 2024
Season continues to 15 June 2024
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Image: Kira May Samu, Philip Hayden and Gabriel Cali in Ghosts – photo by Daniel Rabin

Review: Gavin Roach