As I shuffled out of …and a Ghost Grrl, I overheard a gentleman who may have described the show best: “Well, typical Fringe stuff.” The motely crew making up the King’s Players has certainly earned the “typical Fringe stuff” honor. This is their fifth foray into Fringe, and the new Wiccan, lesbian ghost story script by Timothy R. King is the variety of wackiness you will only find at the uncurated DC festival.
Lights up on Sydney (Brittany Morgan), a high school aged Wiccan hobbyist casting a mediocre love spell. Next we meet the object of Sydney’s affection, Aria (Grace Duah), with her true love, Zoe (Jane Gibbins-Harding). Aria and Zoe share sappy promises and jam to Etta James.
Sydney soon finds out that her love spell did nothing to conjure requited feelings in Aria. Sydney declares her love and is promptly but gently shut down. Aria promises to remain friends despite the awkwardness, she leaves, gets hit by a car and dies. In a grief-stricken moment, Sydney wishfully spreads the rumor that she and Aria had been a couple. Soon after, Sydney realizes an unintended consequence to her love spell: Aria’s ghost is bound to Sydney’s living room, unable to “go to the freaking light.”
This ghost grrl is pissed. Sydney’s eccentric boss, Derek (Timothy R. King) is recruited to nudge Aria off to the spirit world, but she just won’t budge. Meanwhile, there is drama with Sydney’s mama, Andrea (Rachel Morrissey), dad (Mitch Irzinski), and mom’s old flame, Dani (Nikki Summons). In order to heal, every character in Ghost Grrl has to admit their mistakes and let go of their pride.
Oh, and also? There’s music.
and a Ghost Grrl
Book by Timothy R. King
Details and tickets
Performances run the gamut from charming to grating, but everyone is having a grand old time. Actor highlights included Grace Duah’s exasperated ghost Aria, and Timothy R. King’s eccentric ex-therapist. Both had compelling singing voices, Duah’s husky and soulful, King’s trained and bright.
Guitarist and composer Nila Kay is an asset to the show. Her pop guitar enhances slow moments. Her easy rapport with the actors makes even the inexperienced singers sound confident and musically inclined. Her original music is stronger than the lyrics, which do little to move the story forward. Sometimes the songs have nothing to do with the story at all, but seem to be jimmied in solely as a showcase opportunity for certain actors.
Stage manager Brett Bowker is always on his cues. Onstage texting noises are notoriously easy to miscall, but Bowker handles them smoothly. Light cues are crisp, despite the occasional actor not finding their light.
Costumes were well suited to the characters, but would have benefitted from more attention. Aria’s ethereal ghost gown looks like it was plucked straight from the rack at Forever 21, without even cutting off the hanger loops. Some characters change costumes as time progresses, while some stay in the same outfit, Scooby-Doo-style.
The story arc of King’s script is well constructed, but many moments feel under baked. Conflicts resolve in lazily convenient ways, exposition is hastily dumped into scenes, and dialogue is occasionally stilted and unnatural. The play ends on an unexpected note, a strange Tim Curry style button that barely connects to the previous action of the show. Even if confusing, it is a hilarious moment for the underutilized character Derek.
Despite the play’s imperfections, the team of Ghost Grrl has an infectious camaraderie that extends to the audience. The show feels like an inside joke that you’re in on. When there are stumbles, you root harder for the King’s Players to pull through. These artists are not in it for money or fame, but for good times with great friends. Whatever else happens, they finish strong.
The lesson to take away from …And A Ghost Grrl is to live your life openly and honestly. Being untrue to yourself and the ones you love will spell (ba um chhh) trouble down the line. And, for gosh sakes, don’t take your theatre too seriously.
…and a Ghost Grrl by Timothy R. King . Music by Nila Kay . directed by Timothy R. King and Nikki Summons . Cast: Grace Duah, Jane Gibbons-Harding, Mitch Irainski, Timothy R. King, Brittany Morgan, Rachel Morrissey, Nikki Summons . Stage Manager: Brett Bowker . Produced by King’s Players . Reviewed by Ruthie Rado.
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