“Ghost” is a play for young people that’s running at the Alliance theatre until November 9. Based on the 2016 YA novel of the same name by Jason Reynolds, “Ghost” is about a boy named Castle, a.k.a. Ghost. His father is in jail and his mother is studying to become a nurse. Ghost is a good kid, but he’s prone to getting into fights at school, that is until he finds himself joining the school track team.
I know, that sounds cliche. I had some doubts going into the show as well. But I’m here to tell you, this show is worth your time.
Before the show started, I looked in the program and wondered how all the characters would be portrayed with so few actors, but it allowed for the similarities between characters to shine through. In fact, having so few actors gave each actor more of a chance to show off their talent. They were able to lean into the childishness of middle schoolers, which helped to tell the story.
One thing I noticed about the cast was that it was mostly made up of people of color. It felt great to look up on the stage and see people that looked like me. What felt even better was that the only white person wasn’t Ghost’s mentor. While Richard Garner did play Mr.Charles, a friendly confidant in Ghost’s life, he wasn’t the white savior that is seen in so many narratives.
I kept wondering how the running aspect would be handled. In such a confined space, how would they hold track practices? Would they just run in circles on stage? This is where Tinashe Kajese-Bolden’s genius as a director comes into play.
Each track practice was set to music and the running was almost like dance choreography. I loved the rhythm and coordination of each practice. It helped to show how exciting running can feel, and made me want to go for a run.
Intense moments of the show were accentuated with slow motion and lighting changes that really raised the stakes. When it comes to set, props, and other tech aspects the show is simple, but that didn’t take away from the story. Everything was clear and the audience was allowed to use their imagination to finish building the scene.
As a part of the Teen Ensemble at the Alliance, I had the chance to read the script beforehand. My biggest worry was that it was going to be heavy and somber, not what I wanted to sit through on a Saturday night after a busy day. As soon as the show started, my worries were forgotten.
Ghost’s immediate boyish spirit energized the audience. Actor Ibraheem Farmer does an amazing job of adding depth to Ghost. He channels the childish wonder that is common in boys Ghost’s age. Ghost is relatable, wholesome and funny. His comedic timing throughout the show was perfect and kept me laughing. Following Ghost through his story was exactly what I needed that night.
What separates this play apart from other stories about sports is its focus on character development. It’s centered around the conflicts that Ghost has with social status, authority, family, and other children his age. It’s not about him chasing a scholarship that could get him out of the hood, or winning the championship against all odds. It’s simply about a boy who is learning how to connect with others and cope with trauma from his past.
While Ghost is learning, he reminds us that we have to confront our inner demons because we can’t run away from ourselves. That’s a hard message to broadcast but “Ghost” wraps it in a sweet and funny play that makes for an entertaining yet insightful evening for the entire family.
The final performances of the Alliance Theatre’s staging of “Ghost” will take play at 1:00 and 3:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 9 in the Rich Auditorium at the Woodruff Arts Center. For info and tickets, visit the Alliance Theatre website.