Anthony Morgan’s The Legend of the Ghost Shark was a surreal smash at the 24:7 Theatre Festival yesterday.
‘Be careful where your thoughts lead you,’ says the sinister tagline written on the front of the pamphlet. Jason (Christopher Brett) is a hack struggling with writer’s block, so his thoughts can lead him anywhere.
He is assisted by a salacious Wendy, (Iona Thonger) who is a figment of his imagination. The other characters are supposedly real – his wife Catherine (Victoria Brazier), his editor Jacqueline (Alison Darling), a good cop and a bad cop (Tony de Angelis and James Kerr) and a stylish Shaman (James Nickerson) – but then again, maybe they’re not.
Jacqueline has commissioned him to write an article on seafood restaurants, but Jason makes a deal with the shaman to write a demon-stirring legend. More bizarrely, the two cops – a terrific set of American movie stereotypes – interrogate him and his work. Is this all just Jason’s way of distracting himself from his article?
The Legend of the Ghost Shark makes no attempt to be realistic, but that’s why it’s so much fun. It’s all set in one room, and each of the surreal protagonists enter and exit through unseen doorways, which the play continuously points out in order to ramp up its meta credentials.
It could have all gone horribly wrong, but the cartoonish cast makes it work. James Kerr was the highlight as Morello, the man who likes to remind everyone “I’m the baaad cop!” in a manic, faux New York accent whenever the opportunity arises (and also when it doesn’t).
“When I started writing this play, I had no idea what it would turn into,” Anthony Morgan admitted in the pamphlet’s introduction. That’s not terribly surprising, but audiences certainly found the play as hilarious as Mr Morgan did. If only writer’s block was always this entertaining.