Thursday, October 14, 2004

'Thirty Ghosts' uneven


Theater review

Jackie Demaline
Enquirer staff writer

Anne sees dead people. At least, she sees one dead guy, and some dead horses and hears a dead dog barking.

Buried somewhere in the depths of Thirty Ghosts, getting its world premiere at Ensemble Theatre, playwright Robert Lewis Vaughan has some observations worth pursuing about what haunts us.

But Vaughan hasn't become a better playwright since his Praying for Rain premiered at Ensemble in 2002. Rain and Ghosts have lots of problems in common. This is a playwright who continues to be all over the place without going anywhere.

Anne (Peggy Cosgrave) has - oops - bought a haunted house. Designer Brian Mehring has made it look exactly like the setting of a Stephen King novel.

Cosgrave, who's brought her high energy and charm to Women Who Steal and Women of Lockerbie for Ensemble Theatre, is terrific as always.

This time she's a magazine writer so undone when a story leads to the murder of baseball player Luke (Joshua Neth) that she retires to the country - and her guilt forces his ghost to come along.

Vaughan's intriguing thought is that there's not enough of the ghost to go around, so his mourning wife (a. Beth Harris) is left with nothing of his spirit.

Harris has developed into a stage force and Neth, on loan from Cincinnati Shakespeare, demonstrates just how good that company is. With Cosgrave, they carry this script on their backs.

But Ghosts is flabby and tedious. Doors slam spookily, there are some very cool video effects, and Vincent Olivieri delivers whoo-whoo sound design, but Vaughan is so busy packing on ideas that he forgets to create compelling characters.

As enlivened as the play is by three strong performances, it's deadened by three bad ones.

Shelley Little is listless as Patricia, the ghost of a young woman murdered in the 1920s.

Steven Bishop is nondescript, and poor Jim Nelson gets stuck with the role of playing Patricia's wacko pop.

Thirty Ghosts, through Oct. 31, Ensemble Theatre, 421-3555.

E-mail jdemaline@enquirer.com




TOP STORIES
Bishop Woods in peril?
Seton High School details expansion plan
Officer graduates, loses job
County settles on stadium

PRESIDENTIAL DEBATE
Gay-rights sides target black vote
Bush, Kerry spar on domestic issues
Noonan: Kerry 'worst of party'
Kerry's plan, Bush's past declarations scrutinized
Xavier students gather, let own voices be heard
Transcript of Bush, Kerry debate

ELECTION 2004
Taft: 'No' on same-sex issue
Insults fly in Senate race
Vote monitor optimistic
Lawyers rate candidates
Westwood and Groob square off tonight
Lawyer sues over lost form to vote
Middletown streets on ballot
Election 2004 page

IN THE TRISTATE
EPA, trash firm debate leak from closed landfill
Council rejects police plans
Fire union disputes cost-saving plan
Museum faces cutbacks
Frist: Doctors leaving Ohio
Two teenagers arrested in Royal Crown hotel fire
Witness: Mom not hysterical, though fire trapped her infant
Local news briefs
Mayor of Madeira retires, is moving to Warren County
Man ruled insane in murder of activist
Milford police chief resigns, halting property misuse case
State audit faults Morrow
Neighbors briefs
Killer who blamed his victim is executed at Lucasville prison
Public safety briefs
Northwest Local Schools loses board president
Sierra Club pushes renewable energy
New drivers get look at real-life tragedies
OT for Bush rally covered

THEATER REVIEWS
'Thirty Ghosts' uneven
Dancers make impact

ENQUIRER COLUMNISTS
Bronson: Council deaf to pleas for crime control
Good Things Happening

LIVES REMEMBERED
Alex C. Papas, 84, made candy

KENTUCKY STORIES
Towne Center should proceed with latest OK
River view the draw for condos
Losing weight inspired teacher to help others
State insurance plan outlined
N. Ky. news briefs
Dad, lawyer run from SUV after custody case; mom held
Most N.Ky. schools meeting state goals
House fire victim loses Fla. home, too
Fletcher blamed for flap