Ghost Story

A Warning to the Curious: burning the midnight oil…

Last night I went to the theatre in a pure and shameless act of escapism. My ticket to an evening of ghostly storytelling was originally purchased as an anticipated reward for a day spent hard at writing. As it was, my attendance was less reward, more running away from the strain my work had placed upon me. After a fruitless day punctuated by hair-pulling, hurling abuse at myself/computer screen/mountain of books in turn, I’d procured a yield of nothing more than a measly page of incoherent words and a heightened sense of anxiety.

So when the time came, I grabbed my ticket, jumped in my car and headed for the theatre, desperate to be comforted by the black velvety confines of the dark auditorium. A one man show, set on a candlelit stage, telling two ghost stories to an enraptured audience, was just what I needed. But could I concentrate? No. It’s apt that I chose to spend ninety minutes listening to ghost stories when the spectre of my work-not-in-progress, continued to haunt my mind and wouldn’t let me rest. I spent the majority of the time, coming up with a plan of action; a detailed, step-by-step plan of attack of how I was going to achieve the impossible and finish the task in hand before morning.

I did feel momentarily guilty for not paying the actor the attention he was due but I played my part well also, and nervously giggled and jumped in all the right places. But in all honesty, I couldn’t care less if his presence filled the stage or not. The actor on the stage just provided me with an excuse for being there, an ally in my act of procrastination and prolonged avoidance of work. At the end of the performance, I secretly hoped for an impromptu encore to secure further time-wasting. The actor’s skilfully nuanced voice as it came to a conclusion, did nothing more than give rise to a gentle panic inside me – House lights – Applause – my temporal sanctuary destroyed.

As I got up to leave, I became aware of the torrential rain outside, a backdrop that would have set the ghost stories off a treat, had I been regarding the production and not my internal monologue, whose screams had nothing to do with the horrors presented by the show. I was the worst audience member, only aware of myself, and the rain outside rather than enhance the mise-en-scene, only provided a backdrop for my own miserable self. Pathetic fallacy in action.

Ambling back to my car, desperately trying to invoke the spirits of focus and clarity of vision, I tried my hardest to convince myself that I would be able to finish my work that was at that moment, lying haphazard and ruinous, haunting the kitchen table. On reluctantly opening my front door, nothing but an empty house and my papers, corpse-like strewn on the table, greeted me. In all fairness, I did try. But after an hour, I gave up the ghost and settled down to watch ‘The Omen’ instead. As a shameless escapist, I dread to think what my choice of genre portends for the work-filled week ahead!

If you fancy seeing Nunkie Theatre Company’s Robert Lloyd Parry in his one man show ‘A Warning to the Curious’ you can see his performance schedule here: