Thursday, February 22, 2018

Ghost and Funeral Party at ME Theater.

Producer Jeremy Seghers presents Ghost and Funeral Party which are two one act plays by Ashleigh Ann Gardner When the audience enters the theater,  Petra (Monica Mulder) is asleep on her couch while music fills the space. She woke and started to tidy up her art studio until she finally started working on a  painting. I admired all the sketchbooks, and the loose references strewn about the studio. For me it was a familiar scene. Monica confided to me before the show that the painting on the easel was by her mother and the photos around the studio are her own. Her quiet moment of creation is interrupted by a loud knock on her door which caused her to spill coffee all over her blouse. A strange coincidence of fate brought neurotic postal courier Lyle (Ricardo Soltero-Brown) to her apartment door.

In the awkward exchange that followed, it became clear that these two knew each other. It turned out that they had been friends who had had a spontaneous sexual encounter in a closet at a wedding, though Petra was engaged to be married to Lyle's friend. After that Petra ghosted Lyle. Ghosting wasn't a term I was familiar with, but it means leading somebody on before cutting off all contact rather than explaining why the relationship might not work. Lyle stayed to demand an apology from Petra, using every avenue available to him, including relating their story to a male model named Sebastian (Jamie Roy). Sebastian turned out to be a self-indulgent prick, dignity is lost, and Lyle and Petra find themselves wondering if two impossibly flawed people might actually be good together. I of course felt a warm glow hoping that an artist might actually find happiness in this flawed world.

The second play, Funeral Party, actually starred the playwright, Ashleigh Ann Gardner as Gwen. She and Trip (Jon Robert Kress) sneak into a crematorium to mourn the death of their best friend, Clay (Jamie Roy on the gurney.) Clay’s sudden suicide has Trip reeling with guilt, but has left Gwen detached and distracted. What was meant as a playful night's adventure turned into a night of personal regrets and revelations. 

They turn to a list they’ve compiled to keep them on track for the evening: drinks, Chinese food, dancing, coffee. To  lighten the mood, the two put on birthday caps and even put a cap on the lifeless Clay. When Gwen becomes reluctant to proceed with the evening’s planned events, a dark secret about her relationship with Clay is brought to light.

This play was hard hitting and unexpected. When Gwen was forced by Trip to touch the lifeless body, she broke down with such a wail of sorrow that cut me to the core. She fell to the floor. I have heard so many stories of the sorrow that filled the Beardall Center after families were told of the loss of sons and daughters after the Pulse Nightclub massacre. Ashley's performance brought that flood of sorrow back. Guilt always follows a suicide but Gwen's guilt had deeper roots. In an emotional exchange Gwen confessed that she loved Trip and that offered some hope and solace in their darkest hour.

I left the theater feeling a sense of pride and joy at getting to see these two plays by a talented local playwright. The second play truly struck me to the core and the first gave me the voyeuristic satisfaction of seeing an artist open herself to find happiness.

Ghost and Funeral Party runs:
February 22-24, 8:00 p.m.
February 25, 3 p.m.
at ME Theatre
1300 La Quinta Dr #3, Orlando, FL 32809

Tickets are $18

Prints are available for each sketch for $250 and many originals can be purchased for $400. White museum grade shadow box frames are $100 more. You can e-mail Thor at

No comments: