A successful marriage is all about an accumulation of shared memories and values, loads of compromises, deep love, patience, forgiveness, unconditional love and understanding.
Ben (Chris Orchard) and Lana's (Elaine Hudso) 40 year partnership it would seem had all of these qualities as well as a healthy dose of squabbling. Nothing has changed since Ben's death.
Giving Up The Ghost takes us inside the 48 hour period leading up to Ben's funeral. In this timeframe Ben decides to manifest as a ghost for Elaine's benefit as she grapples with the fact he is gone. We also discover she is feeling conflicted in her role of assisting with his euthanasia. He asked the hardest question of anyone, to enable his escape from the constant torment of a terminal illness.
The play is a humorous look at very serious subjects. Other issues such as shared hope for a child (in this case their 24 year old daughter Gemma played by Madeleine Withington) and navigating the ups and downs of married life are other central themes.
Elaine plays to a t the manic, control freak Dr Lana. We soon find out that of course Lana is not thrilled about some of the decisions Gemma is making about her future. We also learn that in spite of appearing quite prickly, Lana truly misses Ben.
Chris Orchard is the lovable, community minded, roguish ALP supporter, school headmaster, Ben who in spite of some of his actions like running off to a private space to do his art, is devoted to Lana. He too is not impressed about Gemma's plans.
In an effort to connect one last time on a joint project, Lana and Ben's ghost are determined to change Gemma's mind, especially in relation to her night club owning fiancee, Jason (played by Andrew Wang with much swagger). In doing all of that, Ben and Lana get to discuss the hurt that lies between them as a result of Ben asking for Lana's help in his death. A touching moment is reached via a sweet rendition of a song by Ben to Lana.
All actors deliver their hearty one liners and their associated punchlines, as written by Rivka Hartman, with ease. There were definitely a few times I laughed with much enthusiasm.
With regard to the set, it simply but effectively recreates Ben and Lana's apartment with one extraordinary prop. You will be flabbergasted by this one piece of onstage paraphernalia that has a few of its own gags written into the script and played to its full advantage. If you have a phobia about being buried alive you may freak at this special prop.
The lighting and music is handled professionally by Mehran Mortezaei.
Giving up the Ghost is being put on by Pop Up Theatre at Sydney's newest and grooviest theatre space, Limelight On Oxford (231 Oxford Street, Darlinghurst).
Further information and tickets can be viewed at http://limelightonoxford.com.
Don't miss it. Until 3 November at new Limelight On Oxford. Make sure you arrive early for as bite yo eat at the downstairs eatery or a drink at the comfy but stylish theatre bar.