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Going against type: 'Ghost-Writer' is quite a mystery

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LANESBORO — "Ghost-Writer," which opened over the weekend at the Commonweal Theatre in Lanesboro, is considered a drama, but it might more accurately be called a mystery.

The play, witten by Michael Hollinger and directed by Michael Bigelow Dixon, is one of the more intriguing plays in recent seasons at the Commonweal, in part because it provides no quick, easy solutions to its premise. You'll exit this play wondering over and over again: "How does she do it?"

Well, as erstwhile typist Myra herself responds to that question, "I don't know."

Exactly what Myra does is this: After the death of Franklin Woolsey, the best-selling author whose typist she has been for many years, Myra somehow begins typing out pages of material that sound like they were written by Woolsey. Meanwhile, Woolsey's widow, Vivian, harbors deep suspicions about exactly what Myra is up to and how she does it — and exactly what relationship did this dowdy typist have with her husband?

There's plenty to chew on here while driving back from Lanesboro, and it's all enhanced by the excellent three-person cast of Adrienne Sweeney as Myra, Hal Cropp at Woolsey, and Susan d'Autremont as Vivian.

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With only three actors on stage, there might be a natural tendency to overplay, in order to fill in the blank spots. Admirably, though, that isn't the case with these three veteran actors, who know they've got a great story to tell, and are wiling to trust that the words of the playwright will be sufficient.

D'Autremont is especially enjoyable as the haughty Vivian, but it's the interplay between Sweeney and Cropp that is fascinating. Sweeney is able to convey on the one hand Myra's childlike enchantment at being present at the creation of great works by a great man, and on the other hand her stubborn insistence on perfect punctuation. Meanwhile, the inflections in Cropp's voice indicate at first his frustration, and then his affection for Myra and her persnickety ways.

After all, Myra insists that he told her he loved her and kissed her — "Or would have," as she adds.

Or is she just making that up, along with the words she is supposedly receives by some telepathic message after his death?

Good questions, with no answers. But rarely will you leave a play contemplating unanswered questions while feeling quite so fulfilled.

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