Creator/performer Karie Richards’ The Ghost Project, produced by Unit 5 Theatre Collective and presented by The Theatre Centre, is a series of monologues that feature encounters with ghosts. Each of these are taken verbatim from personal stories shared by twelve separate individuals. While there are some briefly chilling moments, most of these episodes feel more prosaic.
Glenn Davidson’s set is simple and quaint—a large wardrobe, a comfy, old-fashioned chair and a small window hung at the back. The floor of the wardrobe is covered in artificial tea-lights which give off a faint, shimmering glow whenever Richards opens it to grab one of the many accessories hidden there.
It is these accessories—a scarf, a beaded necklace, a jacket, etc.—that convey some revealing aspect of a character’s personality. Richards alters her voice slightly for each, sometimes slipping into an entirely new accent, but her overall vocal rhythms stay relatively constant from persona to persona. She doesn’t become these people so much as channel them.
Each of the stories follow the same basic structure: set-up of time and place, ghost sighting, life goes on… And the ghosts themselves display some very conventionally spectral behaviour—hovering at the foot of a bed, floating through walls, creeping up stairs. Some of the specific details are funny, others very moving, but there is an overall sameness that eventually feels a little tedious.
Richards exudes such warmth and genuine likability, though, that I never felt too frustrated by the monotony. She creates an atmosphere of sincerity and openness that feels authentic. And the ease with which these people accept the presence of their well-intentioned ghosts is certainly comforting. I believe that sense of serenity is the core of Richards’ vision here, but my interest in the encounters themselves was strained.
The Ghost Project plays out like a collection of stories, which it is. There is no grand statement. It hasn’t any clever tricks in its pocket. There is, though, a rather touching cumulative effect. Listening to these intimate recollections, you’ll likely be caught up in their sense of wonder at life’s mysteries.