Oscar E Moore

From the rear mezzanine theatre, movies and moore

Oscar E Moore header image 2

IBSEN’S GHOST – a disappointing drag PRIMARY STAGES

March 15th, 2024 by Oscar E Moore

To be perfectly clear this is not GHOSTS by Henrik Ibsen.  This is Ibsen’s Ghost by Charles Busch infamous Queen of drag who can sometimes, most times be a riot on stage in his many portrayals of women on the verge.  Sad to report not this time.

Mr. Busch has written a disappointing, convoluted plot that has him starring as Henrik Ibsen’s widow (Suzannah Ibsen) soon after his demise, attempting to cash in on her “intimate” letters with her husband.  Publisher George Elsted (Christopher Borg, sporting a memorable mustache) finds them dull as is most of this production that originated at The George Street Playhouse in New Jersey.

The confusing plot, as is, goes on for almost two hours with an intermission that could be condensed into one act with a lot more clarity thrown in.

Almost everything else is including the much admired silent movie-like mugging of Mr. Busch (with a wink or rolling of his eyes, or his prissy mouth just waiting to skewer with some nasty repartee, a nod to Chekhov with a pistol that misfires as does Act II and some sexual innuendos that fail to titillate.

The cast is delightful.  Especially the infirm, limping across the stage maid (Jen Cody) who tripping and falling now and then steals every scene she is a part of.

Jennifer Van Dyck is as usual right on target as her portrayal of another of Ibsen’s amours Hanna Solberg who is attempting to publish her own collection of memories of dearly departed Henrik.

Then there is Judy Kaye as Magdalene Thoresen.  What a pleasure and treat to see her once more even though I wasn’t quite sure who or why she was there.  My mind kept wandering (thinking of Florence Foster Jenkins) so I must have missed some vital connection.

She is the only one on stage at 59 East 59 who I cared about.  She is real and funny and looks beautiful in her costumes and wigs where one can see where all the money was spent on this production.  Mr. Busch’s wardrobe (Gregory Gale) is also quite stunning.  If only his writing here were that impressive.  Visually the show works beautifully.  Bobbie Zlotnik designed the hair, make-up and wigs which are standouts.

Thomas Gibson appears mysteriously as Wolf, Henrik’s illegitimate sailor son who hitches up with the not so merry widow.

And finally Christopher Borg reappears in drag as The Rat Wife a clairvoyant and is excellent.

This entire mish-mash is directed by longtime collaborator Carl Andress.

Ibsen’s Ghost is billed as “an Irresponsible Biographical Fantasy”

They got that right.  Limited engagement.

Through April 14  PHOTO: James Leynse



Tags: No Comments

Leave A Comment

0 responses so far ↓

  • There are no comments yet...Kick things off by filling out the form below.