Most ghost stories are about either Death or the Past. Sometimes both. The Past, pretty much because that is a definition of "haunted," as in the inability of the past to go away. It remains here, somehow still alive, unwilling to let go. Death, meanwhile, remains that "undiscovered country" from whom no traveler returns. The proof of our sentience, and its curse--we know this will be our fate.
afterlife, a ghost story is about both. The play by Steve Yockey focuses on a married couple trying desperately to deal with the loss of their son. As a huge storm approaches, the visit their seaside house to lock things away. They haven't been back since their child was carried away by the waves. Danielle (Meg Wallace) is distracted to put it mildly. She finds everything surreal, being back. She lashes out, wanders in her mind, tries so very hard to figure out how to process the grief. Her husband Connor (Joshua James Knightley) has tried, maybe found a kind of brittle peace, which makes him a figure of envy and outrage.
Connor saves her, this time. As the storm rises, it proves far more powerful than they imagined. They start to flee in terror...!
Danielle finds herself in what seems like a house. Or maybe just a room. The Proprietress (Mary Burkin) offers her tea, while at her side a half-mad Seamstress (Georgan George) laughs at inappropriate times. The Proprietress explains she's likely going to be here a long, long time and she should plan as well as behave accordingly. We soon figure out--or are more-or-less informed--who (or WHAT) the Proprietress really is, while the Seamstress seems to have rather a lot in common with Danielle.
Connor, alone on a beach, with a blindfold, talks to someone (Edgar Allan Poe IV) whom he does not realize is a large Black Bird. Feel free to enjoy the pun, by all means. This Bird elicits memories from him, and once Connor shares a memory it seems to go away...
Honestly the whole play reminded me of a long (and good) episode of either The Twilight Zone or maybe The Outer Limits. Director Steven Jarrard said this was his goal and he certainly achieved it! The whole cast and crew did! But most of all what they all achieved was an eerie fable, not unlike one of the earliest versions of classic fairy tales--the ones that lack anything like a simple answer obvious at first reading or hearing.
Many might find the play comforting. Others might react by becoming upset. Maybe both. Which by this writer's standards qualifies as a compliment! At heart it comes across as a very personal encounter with the Uncanny, the transcendent which hints this world as we see it makes up such a tiny bit of reality. Ask a modern physicist for details about that if you seek some enlightenment stirred into with more than a few drops of fear.
afterlife: a ghost story plays Fridays and Saturdays at 8pm, Sundays at 7pm until November 12, 2017 at the Avery Shrieber Playhouse, 4934 Lankershim Blvd (south of Magnolia), North Hollywood CA 91601.