Review by Danny Gaisin
A creepy old house in upper New York State; a constant storm with power outages; church bells ringing the witching hour; and naturally – doors that open & close by themselves…all the ingredients for a scary couple of onstage hours. The Peninsula Players present this Joe Simonelli ‘dramady’ (sic) with the obvious goal of eliciting fright & comedic moments in equal parts. Directed by Ray Hunt, the four characters represent stereotypes and their responses to the supernatural. There is a cynic, one cast-member is the logician, another is gullible, and for tension relief – one is incredulous. Note: read my final paragraph .
Simonelli’s plot-line has two NYC sisters buying an anti-bellum farmhouse that is both rundown and has a history. Naturally, the real estate agent has omitted this tidbit to the buyers. Sandra Ingram and Nikki Blain are the two new residents; the former excited about the venue change; the latter -already misses the excitement of ‘The Big Apple’. Old farts may recall a similar situation & relationship that was the basic premise for the Eddie Albert/Eva Gabor TV sitcom ‘Green Acres” that ran from 1965-’71. “Imitation is the sincerest etc.”. Ingram has an on again/off again relationship with a New York cop and he’s obviously intent on taking their affair to a higher level. Brian Munroe is the pivotal character and it is his police contacts that enable him to recruit psychic ‘Antoinette’ as a ‘ghost-buster’. Margaret Pleydon has no vintage Cadillac hearse; fog gun or proton pack…she’s equipped with insight and a couple of ancient expletives.
There were some first night jitters, a couple of missed cues and dialogue slips, but recoveries were of professional grade. With such a small cast, verbiage is extensive and demanding but the quartet are up to the challenge. We recommended some blocking changes so that vocal projection and dialogue tempo could be improved; especially for the more succinct bon mots and clever repartee. One inconsistency; the story-line keeps referring to a window, but to this scribe – its seems more door-like.
Both Ingram and Blain are perfectly cast as the almost diametrically opposite siblings. Direction is so minute & elaborate that audiences will immediately recognize which person is the alpha and beta portrayals. Munroe’s portrayal is not only credible but feels sincere. Even his own baggage, history and fears ring solid. He can make a moment out of just refilling his glass of single malt. Pleydon’s Antoinette not only displays her reading verbally; her stances; pauses, facial expression & understatements emphasize the character. Her Bonnie Wallace -designs also designate her persona.
Staging such a play demands much of the set design; the lighting & sound effects and the props. Back stage management by Michael McGuire and his crew is faultless. Sandra Bacon’s set design is deliciously decrepit and detailing is immaculate. Obviously, tremendous hours went into The Ghost in the Meadow and I couldn’t help but notice the repetition of names and responsibilities in bringing TGITM to Grimsby’s Trinity United Church. Some surnames seem to reflect an obvious family -cooperative mindset and that dear readers, is what makes community theatre such an epitome of common goal and spirit.
She’s about nineteen; we call her ‘Charity’, she’s totally involved with our family situation; displays interest or worry via our Grandmother clock (No longer permits 12 strikes & stops this antique timepiece whenever I’m ill). She’s resided at 138 Gladstone for the past 112 years and doesn’t like Terry’s cook-books.
We asked Miss Pleydon (aka ‘Antoinette”) if she’d like to try plying her de-ghosting talent at our place. Nope, it’s just a character portrayal for her.