By Tatum Stafford
‘A Ghost in my Suitcase’, written by playwright Vanessa Bates, walks a fine line between the supernatural, comedy and family drama…and does so with a relentless, palpable energy that penetrated its audience at the State Theatre on Friday night.
We are firstly introduced to 12 year old Celeste, who has arrived in China to scatter her mother’s ashes. As she is whisked away by her doting grandmother Por Por, it becomes evident that processing her mother’s death won’t be the only task for Celeste whilst she is in China.
Por Por’s adopted child Ting Ting provides an immediate source of conflict for the innocent Celeste, and as the two work together, Celeste becomes aware of a peculiar aspect of Por Por’s life: she is a ghost hunter. As the play progresses, the three must work together to defeat some terribly intimidating ghosts and spirits, and the climax requires some very special tasks and bond of the characters involved.
One of the most remarkable things about this play from Barking Gecko is its incredibly inventive set design and manipulation throughout the show. What appears to be a series of white boxes in all different shapes and sizes is quickly and expertly manoeuvred into large set pieces that represent multiple different areas in China thanks to some brilliant screen and light projections.
The 5-person cast were a force to be reckoned with. Working seamlessly with each other through screens and transitions, much of the show’s impressive special effects (particularly when conjuring the ghosts and presences) involved a great bond amongst the cast members to trust each movement and choice is effectively conveyed.
This is a wonderfully heartwarming story about family, connection and trust. It runs until March 8th at the State Theatre, and is a must-see for festival-goers in its third outing on the Australian theatre scene.
Photo Credit: Sarah Walker
All opinions and thoughts expressed within reviews on Theatre Travels are those of the writer and not of the company at large.