What is it like to sustain a relationship if one of you is dead? Bath Street Productions hurl themselves into this ambitious topic, with a quirky and playful approach. Like They Are presents three disconnected acts which begin in medias res. For starters we have a father and son, having a typical argument about the mistakes the latter is making in life. Only that the father in this duo is long dead – twenty-two years to be precise and the son is now older than his father. The actors turn to shouting in an unsuccessful attempt to inject some emotional tension, which only functions to detract from the humour. The scene opens with the ghost asking his son to turn the page of the book for him and complaining about the choice of entertainment. Well delivered and comic lines punctuate the act, but the undecided tone of the piece somewhat obscures them.
For the main course we have a comic quartet which is by far the most successful of the three short acts. Meet Lara and Dani, best friends except Dani is dead and only Lara can see her. Lara questions whether she is delusional, if the ghost is ‘part of [her] imagination?’ Sadly this interesting idea is aired but not explored, as the production would have benefitted from more of this kind of uncertainty. The dynamic between the two is well acted, touching and believable. Lara is working – her task is to seduce and steal a memory stick containing valuable files from the drugged-up man she brings back. The humour plays around Dani being the third wheel and conscience in the whole affair. Her words of caution are justified, as confusion ensues and a world is created where voices are heard by some but not by others.
Lastly, we have a couple trying to sustain a relationship in which one of them lacks a body. Again the company try their hand at tense emotional drama, but arrive at an overly sentimental destination. An emotive atmosphere is not realised, partly due to the farcical nature of the previous act. How can we take the tragic severing of this young couple seriously when the premise of the ghost has been dealt with in such an inconstant way?
This is a very ambitious endeavour, with some very funny moments and interesting dialogue. The company show promise and raise some thought provoking ideas, but need a clearer focus on what they want to achieve with the piece. It was a slightly shaky first performance, but not a bad way to spend my Tuesday night.