Chasing Ghosts is one of the latest contributions in Etcetera Theatre’s extensive line up of Camden Fringe shows. This is the second outing of the piece, produced by JB Theatre and written by Rob Bingham, who also stars in the piece.
The plot revolves around Simon, played by (Ben Felton), who is haunted by the ghosts of his past. After a violent episode in which his colleague Callie (Natalie Winter) is hospitalised, Simon receives religious counselling from mysterious priest Cade (Rob Bingham) at the police station. This duologue makes up most of the production and it is a credit to Bingham’s writing that the well-paced conversation never loses the audience’s attention. There are some provocative arguments around guilt, accountability and redemption, and the script builds dramatic tension organically as we delve deeper into Simon’s psyche and past trauma.
Felton is a fantastic performer and an engaging lead, skilfully peeling back the layers of Simon’s tortured conscience. He has a real presence onstage and is utterly believable in the role, with his reactions to the ghostly presences never feeling overdone. There are monologues from each character throughout the piece, which are all well-presented and provide nice pockets of insight. Winter, in particular, is excellent at soliloquising her thoughts in a very natural way with nuance and heart.
Bingham as Cade is a very complex character, with so much of his dialogue contrasting with what you would expect of a religious figure. Fortunately, the character toes the right side of the line between intriguing and confusing and therefore draws you further into the piece rather than taking you out of the action.
The stand-out moment is a physical theatre sequence which incorporates an ambitious lift moment, made all the more exhilarating by the intimate theatre space. It is an evident strength of the company, executed with polish and precision, which begs the question of why more of these moments aren’t included throughout the show. In fact, all the physical elements of the production from the stage combat to the ghostly presences cannot be faulted.
The piece is certainly minimal, with a few furniture pieces used to establish each location. Additionally, the cast are all in quite non-descript outfits, with Felton dressed entirely in casual black clothing – reminiscent of rehearsal/workshop attire. Whilst the places are decipherable enough, and the dark clothing is likely a choice to assist the multi-roling ghosts, these elements do make it harder to completely immerse in the world of the play.
Chasing Ghosts is an intriguing piece with good foundations and great central performances. Should the piece return next year, it would be nice to see the piece’s production value grow beyond its current fringey aesthetic.
Chasing Ghosts is played Etcetera Theatre until 11 August 2021. For more information, see Camden Fringe’s website.