BWW Review: GHOST HOUSE, VAULT Festival
Jay has just bought his first home. And not just any home, a luxury flat in a swanky complex with a concierge. A dream. In the matter of days he realises that there must be something wrong with his new abode, and it turns out that even though he keeps hearing noises and meeting neighbours, he's the only one living in the brutalist Balfron Tower.
VAULT Festival sees the debut of Tristan Bernays's latest work Ghost House under director Andrew Twyman. Victor Alli as Jay is the proud homeowner; the play shifts into a great exercise for the actor, who exhibits precise and delicate skills, but the script feels like it's pulled in different directions by force majeure. Where the start gives hints of a critique on a gentrified London, Bernays then slightly loses his grip attempting to write a modern ghost story to highlight loneliness and grief.
Unfortunately, while all his themes are solid when picked apart, he doesn't manage to explore any of them in depth over 60 minutes. The vibe and feel of the production are, however, vivid and unfaltering. David Gregory and Ryan Day's contributions as sound and lighting designers respectively are essential to the outcome.
From the flickering lightbulb that hangs above Jay's head like a sword of Damocles to the creaks and whispers of the house itself, they set the scene as subtly spooky from the opening with Twyman's direction. Alli is captivating in his performance as he artfully switches between his main character and the number of side personas he encounters.
As Twyman slowly changes his route, his isolation becomes more evident and he becomes a man ridden with guilt and pain. While his inner demons begin to show up on his new walls, his intimate sphere shifts into plain view. This is, however, left rather uncharted and the writer almost leaves it to be taken at face value.
This soft perplexity in thematic lines doesn't stop Ghost House from being an entertaining piece of theatre, and the company certainly delivers an interesting show with lots of further potential.