Directed by: Mitch Golob
Apollo Studio Theatre
It may seem somewhat trite to put out stories that juxtapose morality with mortality, but Randall Colburn’s Ghostbox is nothing but. The story follows a young woman (played by Victoria Gilbert) trying to communicate with her husband (played by Kevin Crispin) via a modified transistor radio. Why not just phone him, you may ask? Well, therein lies the problem…he’s in hell.
The plot, simple in its design, is executed in a complex fashion that combines both film and stage performances. Right away we learn that this woman is fearless in her quest to confront the demons of hell to find her husband and to get answers as to why he ended up there. The husband, despondent and seemingly emotionless, claims that he was pre-destined to be damned and conversely believes that his wife is pre-destined to be saved. Realizing this, he determines that his only path to salvation lies in the hands of his child. Both are struggling to discover who the other really is. Don’t be fooled though, both of these characters are self-aware and know why everything is the way it is.
Colburn’s script is no doubt a challenge to comprehend. The dialogue may be overly poetic, and even esoteric at points, but the actors interpretation makes it feel more relevant to the masses. (Note: At the end of the show everything becomes very plain…so hang in there.)
Director Mitch Golob has served Colburn’s ideas well by organizing a tight performance that blends the mixed media format with precision. Paradoxically chilling and beautiful at the same time, the art direction is a reflection of the complicated dialogue. The footage running in the back of the stage is shot extremely well and edited even better. The added effect of a looming silhouette behind the movie screen (played by Michael Coale) accentuates the symbolism of the husband as a “shadow”, and once again, complements the script quite well. It almost feels like see a piece of installed art that runs on a continuous loop.
What’s most rewarding about this production is the length. At 45 minutes, Ghostbox does not try to fill time with unnecessary filler just to appease some theatrical “standard”. This show is not interested in diluting itself. Some may be off put feeling like they weren’t at the theatre long enough to get their money’s worth. Just remember…quality over quantity.
I wouldn’t take the kids to see this show, just on the simple fact that it would be way over their heads, but there are some scary moments. Despite the complexities of this show, I do believe that casual theatre goers would appreciate this production as a way to broaden their horizons.
John B. Reinhardt
Date Reviewed: 10/1/10
For full show information, check out the Ghostbox page at TheatreInChicago.
Apollo Studio Theatre/ 2540 N Lincoln Ave Chicago / $20 – $12 (industry discounts) / Running time approximately 45 minutes/ September 30th, thru October 31st