New musical Ghost Light shines an uncomfortable light on what we do to former child stars at the Golden Goose Theatre
“We know why you’re here”
A new musical from award-winning writer Molly O’Gorman, Ghost Light is a somewhat challenging take on the corrosive effects of fame and particularly on women in the public eye. Counting the shows off one by one with lipstick on her mirror, Cat is coming to the end of a troubled set of performances and she’s had enough. But with her grasping husband cracking the whip and ambitious understudies and momagers waiting in the wings, is the future hers to grasp for herself?
As a former child star whose talents haven’t necessarily carried through into adulthood, Cat’s position is tenuous at best but since she’s been at the head of this gravy train for so long, those who have come to rely on it all exert their own pressure on her. In some cases, her despair is warranted due to the emotional abuse; in others though, her desperation is driving her to some dodgy decisions which are manifesting in worrying ways.
It’s a story that is undoubtedly full of potential but a world here which doesn’t always translate it. The focus of Elena Yianni’s production bounces around the company of five in a way which detracts from the centrality of Cat’s journey. The romantic travails of her mother and colleague take up a good couple of number early on which oddly diverts some of the narrative drive, and the production at times feels too focused on minor details – the constant shifting of the dressing table for one.
Musically, Ghost Light is also a bit of a challenge but in a more fascinating manner. O’Gorman’s piano-based score eschews easy tunefulness to represent the complexities of Cat’s mindset (quiveringly portrayed by Siân Elissa), shifting to more straightforward book songs for the other characters, Ellie Councell’s Charley seizing her moment most appropriately.