As a writer, you spend a lot of time staring off into nothing-ness waiting. Waiting for what is hard to describe. An idea, a story, a way out of a sticky situation or sometimes, just the right words. Michael Hollinger’s Ghost-Writer presents that experience in a very strange and somewhat mysterious manner. Set in the year 1919, Myra Babbage is the faithful typist of famed (fictional) author Franklin Woolsey, who has passed away. After years of ignoring other aspects of her young life, Myra Babbage has found herself in an unfamiliar world without her one task in life, typing Woolsey’s dictations. However, her task does still remains. An unfinished book is left lingering in her head and she is the only one left capable of finishing it.
Directed as an open ended mystery, Ghost-Writer is currently being presented by the International City Theatre in downtown Long Beach. Directed by ICT’s artistic director caryn desai, Ghost-Writer envelopes the audience in the mystery of the deceased author and his typist and the question of who is really finishing the novel. Is she being haunted or is she just crazy? The roles in this play are portrayed beautifully by the cast. Paige Lindsey White’s Babbage never leaves the stage, and narrates the entire play. White shows her confused, infatuated and heart broken emotions through her eyes and facial expressions during her narration of her life before and after Woolsey’s death. Leland Crooke’s solemn , lost in thought, intense Woolsey paces the back ground of the set through out most of the play, representing the presence ever lurking in Myra’s mind. Their interactions, during the flashbacks scenes are intense and heart felt. The romantic tension between the two can be felt, like electricity shooting waves throughout the entire theater.
The play consists of constant changes between the past and the present. Babbage recounts her interactions with Woolsey, which are played out by the actors. To differentiate between the times, light designer, Donna Ruzika, has done a beautiful job altering the lights. From bright during the years Woolsey was alive, to dark and shadowed when Babbage is without her author.
As for the mystery of the play, in my mind I believe that after all of the years working so closely with Woolsey’s creativity and with the stories; Myra has finally become much more than just a typist. She is a writer herself. Yet she is unfamiliar with how the words come in one’s mind. She believes that being a writer must be so different from being a typist, where you are waiting for the words to appear from the narrating author. But in actuality that is exactly what being a writer is. The narrator may be your own thoughts, but you still wait and wait, hoping for the rest of the words to come to you. And sometimes when they do, you try with every fiber of your being to be able to write them down as fast as they pour out of your head and through your fingers. This is being a writer. It is a surreal feeling and when anyone asks, where did that idea or phrase come from, more often than not a writer will not know and neither did Babbage. She just assumed that it must be coming from her beloved, late dictator, thinking herself incapable of forming the story on her own.
But that is just this humble writer’s opinion, or at least that is what I felt compelled to write down.
Ghost-Writer plays at ICT until September 16th. Visit their website for ticket information and to view their newly announced 2013 season.