‘Laying the Ghost’

‘Laying the Ghost’ is a romantic comedy written by Simon Williams. Williams is probably best known for his portrayal of the young Captain James Bellamy in the original series of ‘Upstairs Downstairs’. The play is being presented by the Stirling Players at the Innaloo Community Centre, in Morris Place, Innaloo. The two hour-twenty minute performances are on Thursday, Friday and Saturday until the 15th March. Curtain up at 8.00 pm, with a Sunday matinee on the 9th at 2.00 pm.

The set is of a large conservatory at the rear of ‘Yew Tree House’, a limestone built retirement home in the south of England. The set has been very well designed, and decorated (Ian Wilson, Tom Brandwood, Les Farrell) complete with the comfortable outdoor furnishings (Michael Stronach, Martyn Hey) there is an air of opulence. Jan Coe supplied an admirable extra artistic prop. Ian Wilson capably handled the sound and lighting. The whole show was under the efficient control of stage manager Janet Brandwood and her assistant, Melissa Skeffington. 

        Sitting at the side of the conservatory, doing her spicy jigsaw is Freda (Ursula Johnson – absolutely delightful). Whilst she looks for the ‘naughty’ pieces, she chats away to the spirit of her late husband. Being a retired actress, Freda is known for regularly displaying indelicate hand gestures and the crudest of expressions. When the home’s nurse, Mrs Kidd (Janet Weston) hands her the account for her month’s alcohol consumption, Freda is not pleased.

       Freda’s best friend, another actress, Margot (Karin Staflund, excellent) is celebrating her 70th birthday. As she opens her cards, a young actress, Sadie (Sandra Stoitis) arrives for advice on how to tackle the part of Juliet that she is playing in a new production. Margot recalls 40 years earlier, when she fell in love with Romeo and how she eventually married the actor – Leo Buchanan (Paul Anderson).

       As they are talking, ‘the miserable bitch’, Judy – now Lady Buchanan (Claire Westheafer) and who stole Margot’s husband from her, arrives with a birthday card that is immediately consigned to the wastepaper basket. The madcap ‘sing-a-gram’ (Peter Francisco) was also unappreciated by the guests.

       Will peace ever return to the retirement home?

      The auxiliary nurses, Frances and Robyn (Melissa Skeffington, Janet Brandwood) had more of a walk-off part, than a walk-on one.

Carole Wilson only turns her hand to directing every couple of years, but when she does she gathers a talented cast and gives great value for money.

If you have any relatives living in an old folks’ village then you will sit through the whole show with a broad grin. The script is very British, with a dry sense of humour. There are several novel turns to the story threads that caught me by surprise. The dialogue was well constructed and allowed for a very natural flow to the script, and with the superb cast who were perfectly tuned in to the comedy, the laughs kept flowing.

A good old fashioned comedy for all of the family (perhaps over 14 yrs.), well presented and greatly appreciated by the large audience.