Party Ghost

Halloween is still months away, but fear not, Party Ghost is here to suck you right into the deadly holiday spirit. The absurdist comedy show mixes old-school circus into cabaret and drag forming a beautifully macabre aesthetics. The fast-paced hour is packed with grief, ghosts, poltergeists, severed limbs and more ways to kill that special somebody that you dare to count.

A celebration of all things gothic and grotesque

Party Ghost is a tongue-in-cheek dark comedy, a celebration of all things gothic and grotesque, which pays a notable homage to Tim Burton. It’s concurring sketch turns birthday celebrations into Death Days, where one of the performers receive a birthday present and the other one tries to kill them. Directed by Nicci Wilks and performed by Olivia Porter and Jared Dewey, Party Ghost has some brilliant moments, but lacks general focus and a storyline that would bring it all together.

The two Brisbane based lead performers complement each other beautifully, bringing into mind a full-grown version of the twins in The Shining. Olivia Porter is the juggler extraordinaire, whose deadpan comedic persona and innovative juggling style is a joy to watch. Jared Dewey’s genderbending is as refreshing as his aerial acrobatics is impressive. The best moments in the show come right at the start, when Deway portrays a grieving widow with a hilarious set of aerial acrobatics making full use of his expressive and bizarre character. He could for sure give Pedro Almadovar’s hysterical women a run for their money.

The pair fit seamlessly together in some impressive ground acrobatics, where one could easily lose a limb or two – in fact, they do. While there are ghosts creeping up and down the isles, the show is more comical than scary. These ghosts are so clumsy that it isn’t any wonder they ended up dead. The show uses very few spoken lines, but includes plenty of screaming. In fact, I would have preferred is to be completely mimed (and screamed). The budget wasn’t blown on costumes or set design, but the impressive use of lights and sound effects makes all the difference. Especially strobe lights are used to their full advantage. The choreographies are excellent, as were the bits were the two artists got to show their individual talents.

While the show offered many spectacular ideas on how to get rid of annoying people in your life, it missed a coherent storyline that would have bound the string of sketches together. Besides a few truly memorable moments like a hilarious version of Adele’s Hello, there was too much aimless spooking around in white sheets. This Tuesday's matinee was a tough crowd, where the audience watched the performance mostly in silence, interrupted by a few giggles. A show like this would have benefitted from a late night spot and a drink or two to get the audience involved.

Absurdist comedy is a tough nut to crack. The balance of genius and madness have to be just right for it to work its magic. Unfortunately, this show will not haunt me afterwards.

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Reviews by Johanna Makelainen

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Since you’re here…

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The Blurb

Cirque, theatre, death and drag come together in this exquisite macabre production. Expect to see a wild mix of dismembered limbs, ghosts and all sorts of outrageous and disturbing shenanigans. Fans of high-level circus and dark comedy will find Party Ghost refreshing, jaw-dropping and hauntingly hilarious. It's not for the faint of heart – so come prepared for a little bit of boo and a whole lot of bang for your buck! Winner Overall Best Circus and Physical Theatre, Adelaide Fringe 2023.

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