The Greenville Ghost, a new script by Tom Bonnington, is a laugh-a-minute farce about two struggling hoteliers who decide to invent a fictional ghost to draw in clientele.
The cast members revel in their roles and have exceptional comedic timing.
Charlie is a hopeless businessman, the type who spends the money they don’t have on a new fridge, then champagne to celebrate the purchase of said fridge and then champagne flutes from which to drink the celebratory fizz. His wife, Edith, the sensible one of the pair, despairs of his madness and is not reassured by Charlie’s idea of branding themselves a haunted hotel to drum up business.
When newspaper journalist Hardy arrives and claims to see the very spirit that Charlie has fabricated, Charlie thinks his plan has worked, although Edith is not so convinced about Hardy’s motivation: can they trust him? What madness will they encounter next?
The cast members revel in their roles and have exceptional comedic timing. Max Fitzroy-Stone is charismatic as Charlie, balancing the idiotic with the endearing. As Edith, a woman of dry wit and quiet intelligence, Saffia Sage is a brilliant foil to his ridiculousness. The character of Keynes, priest and paranormal enthusiast, is not as three-dimensional as the others, although I enjoyed Joseph D’Angelo’s portrayal. James Esler is great as quick-thinking newspaper man Hardy and I loved the contrasting relationships he had with Charlie and Edith.
The pacing is tight, the presentation is bright and the simple set of a rug on the floor, a desk, a lamp and some wilting flowers in a vase suggest a hotel foyer, while allowing the actors plenty of playing space. The Greenville Ghost has a witty script and escalating absurdity in the situation, with a very satisfying climax, although I did want a bigger payoff in the final scene. Farces seem to have gone out of fashion in contemporary writing – certainly I haven’t seen much of this type at the Fringe – but this play is well worth a look.