Players Review: I Am Not What I Am/Ghost Writer

So, what am I reading?

A review for I Am What I Am/Ghost writer, two original farces written by Mark Ball.

That means you get two plays for the price of one?

Yes – well – kind of. You could argue that they are actually just parts of the same play. The presence of a self-portrait in both emphasises this notion. As does the same cast. Or maybe Ghost Writer is a meta-theatrical commentary on I Am What I Am…

Ok, ok stop! This is all getting a bit ‘conceptual.’ In simple language, what is the play about?

Plays. Keep up. So the first is about a couple, Olivia (Freya Gillespie) and Richard (David Roper-Nolan) whose relationship is on the rocks. Set in England at some point between 1850 and 1930, Olivia is seemingly stuck unhappily in this marriage unless she can find some dirt on her husband. In cahoots with her erotic novel author/maid Mary (Maggie Crane) they enlist the help of Detectives Bracknell and Fingleton (Julie Duffy and Rachel Blennerhassett) to uncover scandal (Hint: it involves a gay relationship and theatre within theatre).

Ooh scandal! Great, and the other play?

Well, we’re catapulted about 90 years forward to modern day Dublin/London/New York to a struggling writer’s office. Essentially this is a play about writing plays with playwright Ed’s (Eoin Elliot) being performed for us, the lines between fiction and reality rapidly becoming blurred.

Sounds confusing… so what were they like?

A country road. Uneven, but ultimately enjoyable. There were some great bits of farce, my personal favourite concerning defecation (Not sure what that says about me). Then, particularly in the role of Mary, Maggie Crane was hilarious throughout. Generally the farcical/comic elements were pulled off successfully and lifted the whole performance. Both the set and costume design worked well too, with Olivia looking the perfect 1920s housewife.

I sense a ‘but?’

Yes. While the comic scenes were well done, I was less convinced by some of the serious scenes, especially in I Am Not What I Am. The ending was, though perhaps intentionally so, clichéd and didn’t really work. Guns and finales are two things that should remain separate. A recurrent problem was that there was a lack of emotional response to shocking revelations. There were a few times where I felt the play was unrealistic. Also, there were moments that I felt should have been edited a little. For example there was a Ruby Sparks-sequence in Ghostwriter that was a bit overwrought, and at times the script was telling when it should have been showing.

All right mate, bit negative…

Maybe… it wasn’t that I felt any of it was bad, just that considering how well done aspects of it were, it seemed a shame that the level wasn’t consistently high.

Final thoughts? 

For all its flaws, I still enjoyed the performance and would recommend watching it.

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