Some friends got us tickets to see Ghost Light at the Berkeley Rep for Xmas, and today was the day we got to go. It’s the emotional story of the son of George Moscone, the San Francisco mayor who was assassinated along with Harvey Milk in 1978. It’s directed by that son, Jonathan Moscone, and written by Tony Taccone.
Ghost Light takes its ghosts seriously. They are all over the play, in often confusing ways. Jon has dreams that take him back to his father’s death when he was 14, while he tries to put on a production of Hamlet that gets stuck with an inability to figure out how best to present the ghost of Hamlet’s father. This all works better on an emotional level than any other way … you always sense how tortured Jon is, but it’s not always clear exactly what is happening or whether this or that scene is “real” or a dream.
The acting was strong, although the dialogue felt stagy to me, and there was too much didactic speechmaking in the early part of the play. (I’ve been obsessing about an odd piece in Salon about sitcoms, which may have inspired me to look for staginess where it didn’t necessarily exist.) The play also runs too long after what feels like the proper ending.
But the entire production is innovative, and it is definitely worth seeking out. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a filmed version show up at some point on HBO.