Gash Theatre Gets Ghosts – Camden People’s Theatre

Created by Maddie Flint and Nathalie Ellis-Einhorn

Rating: 3 out of 5.

In 2017 Merriam-Webster and the Oxford Dictionary updated the term ‘ghosting’ beyond the previous association with static television. The act of silencing communications with a personal relationship, to ghost someone, has become synonymous with quick hook-ups and avoidance of social responsibilities. But there’s something more meticulously sinister with the connotations of the act of ghosting, the spectres of a far more archaic and malicious presence that reside and continue to influence relationships to this day: misogyny.

Hunted across the parks of Camden, theatre creators Maddie Flint and Nathalie Ellis-Einhorn find themselves cornered in a sadistic game of cat and mouse by the enigmatic ‘Mr Ghost’. Locked within the rooms of the Camden People’s Theatre, there’s only one way out – confront the ghouls lurking beneath, all while having a boogie. Gash Theatre Gets Ghosted relies heavily on the mechanics of pop-cultural references to demonstrate the habitual and systemic patriarchy in media. From romanticised pornography which becomes more believable than reality to the endless comedic routines and quips about bagging a girl in 60 seconds, and masculine heroes Spartacus, Joey Tribbiani and James Bond.

The physicality that Flint and Ellis-Einhorn conjure throughout is impressive, spanning both as comedic and symbolic, whether this is the manipulation of form, accentuating hip thrusts with enviable chest hair or provocative movements. Gash Theatre Gets Ghosted suffers tonal issues as it chases a more subversive shape of chaos. Moments that work tremendously, particularly the experimental movements and comedy, draw direct parallels against the competitive energy men seem to emanate and sometimes makes the audience work for their reward.

There’s an experimental aesthetic of flinging everything at the walls and seeing what sticks, resulting in a production with incredible momentum allowing Gash Theatre to quickly side-line jokes or segments which fall flat – save for one major break in momentum. A forgotten line segment, a removal of build-up overstays its welcome beyond the initial shot of humour. It’s a peculiar decision like this that weighs down a show which bombastically launches itself into the murky pools of anarchy and art, emerging with some choice insights and visual performance.

Challenging much, particularly the poisonous influences of patriarchal institutions, popular culture, and reservation of masculinity for CIS men, Gash Theatre subverts the expectations of gender identities with self-aware humour and ridicule. At peaks moments, this triumphant fusion of the absurd and the hyper-real deconstructs vast issues while maintaining a sense of energy, enjoyment, and movement.

Any questions surrounding the production team’s adoration for popular culture, specifically B-Movie horrors, is practically slathered in the technical aspects and set design. Kristina Pringle’s cinematography emphasises the angular work and lighting synonymous with the found-footage horror genre. Jarring at first, the shaky cam and less streamlined cinematography is distracting but reinforces the target aesthetic of a unique audio-visual experience. Light is a plaything for the team, the silhouettes cast by Flint and Ellis-Einhorn framed in a manner both play into the obsessive male gaze of the female frame and furthers the love of horror iconography.

There are teeth to Gash Theatre, sharp and clever beneath all the jokes. The implication of conditioned experiences is a terrifying notion, that young women who discover their sexuality will unintentionally objectify and weigh themselves against others due to past relationship with men. Without question Gets Ghosted is written with experience, understanding and a warning.

Runs here until 24 April 2021

Review published for The Reviews Hub

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