By Owen Woods | firstname.lastname@example.org
GHOSTS are more than just the spirits of those long gone. You must also take into account the ghosts of the past, the ghosts of time. The veil between this life, the past, and the future is razor thin. If you’re not careful, you may cross over.
Stupid Ghost, an ASU Xperimental Theatre production, is about a Ghost, played by Liv Huffmaster, who follows a Pretty Girl home. The Ghost wants nothing more than just to have a conversation with this Pretty Girl, Ronnie. Ghost feels lost and misunderstood, perhaps. The ghosts spend their time in the woods, but the pretty girl inspires change in the ghosts. Huffmaster works the crowd with ease, using the entire Xperimental stage space. She makes eye contact with the crowd, nailing home the fact that this ghost can see us, ensuring that we witness the story unfold alongside her. Huffmaster delivers a genuine performance that forces her to put her vulnerabilities at the stagefront. Her wit is nothing short of sharp and her confidence is nothing short of inspiring.
The “Poltergeist” of the story, the Other Ghost, has possessed Ronnie’s mother and is tormenting her and the Ghost. Maniacal laughter and a penchant for tripping are just part of the fun and just a small piece of what remains of the soul. The Poltergeist sews chaos, through a sordid and unhinged performance by Isaac Sisneros. Cackling, tripping, man-handling, and a keen awareness of the music make his character the comic relief and key antagonizer. Sisneros’ performance is fun, funny, and overall an invaluable addition to the already-stellar cast.
Stupid Ghost delivers with its deadpan humor and teenage charm, but finds time throughout to dip its toe into philosophical ponderings of what it means to let sleeping dogs lie. It finds the time to be more than just a humorous piece of stage production by asking the audience to find some compassion for a lonely soul, even though her choices are questionable at best. More than halfway through, a “Lecturer” appears on stage to elaborate on just what the definition of “ghost” is in this particular production. Caitie Adams, wearing sunglasses and looking much like an agent for a sub-level government organization, rattles off the different kinds of ghosts in an impressive burst. Ghosts are so much more than just the apparitions of famous people who haunt buildings.
Ghosts are time, memories, people, places, history, and so much more, like the ghosts of children who are now grown up. This shift into a higher gear of headspace elevates the play beyond its mid-’90s teen movie vibe.
Nate Pixley’s John Piere is a sincere and heartfelt performance. There is a vulnerability to his act. His physical comedy and stage presence allow him to really shine. John Piere is off to college next year and he’s in love with Ronnie, so he wants to make sure their time together isn’t spent worrying about the future. A couple of ghosts will meddle in his life, forcing John Piere to bear first-hand witness to the events. He falls into a panic at the end of the play. Pixley’s dramatic tone change and palpable sense of terror was the highlight of his performance.
Stupid Ghost is anything but stupid – silly, sure, but far from stupid. Its short run time doesn’t allow enough to truly swallow the depth of the philosophy. A slightly unclear and fragmented story without a wholly defined throughline makes it difficult to really grasp onto the whys of the plot. However, Stupid Ghost isn’t about a plot of wrong or right, good or evil, it’s about leaving the dead alone and making sure the dead leave us alone.
Stupid Ghost was written by Savannah Reich and directed by Maria Perez. This is Perez’s capstone project. Stupid Ghost is presented by Adams State University Theatre, with the School of Visual and Performing Arts. This production was produced in connection with New Play Exchange.