Melbourne, Melbourne Fringe 2015

His Ghostly Heart, Melbourne Fringe Festival 2015

0 Comments 28 September 2015

Now in its third season, Skins writer Ben Schiffer’s His Ghostly Heart exudes sorrow, heartbreak and yearning as it is given new life by Brisbane actors Riley Nottingham and Bundy Marston.

The audience is ushered into a pitch-black room with a single mattress at its centre, where two figures are making love under the sheets. The play follows one continuous conversation between the university-aged couple, Tom (Nottingham) and Daisy (Marston), following this passionate embrace. What ensues is a half-hour introspection into their tortuous relationship, looking deeply at humanity’s need to avoid pain and strive for perfection, even if it means hiding in the dark.

Nottingham (The Gods of Wheat Street, We are Darren and Riley) and Marston both present tortured characters and successfully balance out the dramatic intensity and bland British humour of Schiffer’s script. Nottingham plays the naturally charming playboy who always knows what to say to a girl. He is the seeker of idealised beauty, but is challenged by Marston as Daisy who seeks the darkness so that nobody can see her imperfections.

With the title taken from a passage in the seminal 1920s novel The Great Gatsby, this too is a story of people defining themselves in relation to others. It shows the devastating effects of choosing to see others as flawless to compensate for one’s own flaws. Schiffer and director Richard Edge never shy from pushing Tom and Daisy under the scorching light of the microscope. Static bodies simply conversing after their act of passion, throughout the piece Tom and Daisy become more and more restless, both in their movements and their dialogue, until the play reaches its psychological crescendo.

The play slightly diminishes its impact as an exploration of our dependence on visuals and appearance because the space is lit by the slight glow of the exit sign above the door, albeit barely. However, the intentional lighting, scarce as it is, presents an other-wordly look into the lives of the characters.

His Ghostly Heart is a harrowing, yet poignantly reassuring window into the equal amounts of harm and good that love can inflict on a person’s life. It is a unique experience which vividly shines light on the often neglected truths to be found in the shadows of the world.

His Ghostly Heart is on at Upstairs at Errol’s, 69-71 Errol Street, Melbourne from 26 September – 3 October at 10:30pm. For more information or to book tickets, please visit the Melbourne Fringe website or call the ticketing team on 9660 9666.

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