Reviewed by on    Theatre in Ottawa and the region   ,

Photo courtesy of Rural Root Theatre Company

Ghost of a Chance
By Flip Kobler and Cindy Marcus
Rural Root Theatre Company
Directed by Valerie Jorgensen

The three most annoying things about Ghost of a Chance are: its heavy borrowing from the Noel Coward classic Blithe Spirit early on; the unreasonable return of one thieving character, simply to engineer a happy ending; and the misdating of deer hunting season by a character who is supposed to be a hunting/shooting/fishing macho type.

There is also an issue with the 1996 comedy by husband-and-wife writing duo Flip Kobler and Cindy Marcus being cluttered with too many complications and silliness. Even so, this ‘spirited’ sit-com includes a number of funny lines. But, unless a production of this type moves at a consistently fast pace, it stands more than a ghost of a chance of falling flat.

Unfortunately, this is what happened at several points during the Sunday matinee in the current Rural Root Theatre Company production, directed by Valerie Jorgensen. This was primarily because some cast members dried and others on stage seemed unable to step into the void. Despite some embarrassing silences and faltering in pace, however, all cast members were clear in their characterizations, even if they were not always confident in their delivery.

The strongest performances came from Ivo Mokros as the title character and Tanja Puchala as his widow, Bethany. Mokros, despite the grey-toned makeup in Act I, is a solid and appropriately unghostly force as he tries to persuade his wife not to marry her fiancé, Floyd (Greg Geisler — a suitable contrast to the macho Chance). Meanwhile, in a believable characterization, Puchala maximizes physical comedy to demonstrate her indecision.

Flamboyant costuming aside, Cathy Dowsett delivers a matter-of-fact presentation of the clairvoyant, Crystal, and manages to make her unreasonable return for the denouement seem almost reasonable.

Set in a cabin in the woods, complete with a huge mounted stag’s head, Ghost of a Chance employs the Blithe Spirit premise that, at first, only one other person can see and converse with the ghost in question. This makes conversations confusing and responses amusing and reliant on fine timing — one area that displays the cast at its best.

Clearly, considerable effort has gone into the Rural Root production of Ghost of a Chance, which continues at the Constance and Buckham’s Bay Community Centre to May 6.

 

Director………………………………………….Valerie Jorgensen

Set………………………………………………..Helen Weeden

Lighting………………………………………….Martin Weeden

Sound…………………………………………….Andy Robert and Jason Matheson

Costumes…………………………………………Cheryl Dalbec

 

Cast:

Bethany…………………………………………..Tanja Puchala

Chance……………………………………………Ivo Mokros

Floyd……………………………………………..Greg Geisler

Crystal……………………………………………Cathy Dowsett

Verna……………………………………………..Pamela Stowers

Adam Lucas………………………………………Leo Powell