His Ghostly Heart

Raphael Solarsh

This Melbourne Fringe production opens with a palpable feeling of tresspass, which it never quite overcomes.
His Ghostly Heart

As the audience filed into the already darkened room, a white sheet moving suggestively at their feet, there was a palpable feeling of tresspass. Armed with a booking reference though, there was no instinctive hand clapped across the eyes and or a stream of awkward apologies. No, instead there was a pleasant mix of voyeurism and titillation. As the amorous activities ended, the play began and the mired story of two young lovers unfolded in this most private of settings.

In the unavoidable intimacy that follows sex Tom reveals himself with almost naïve eagerness. He’s something of a romantic, with an idealised view of himself and his past experiences. Well-meaning if a little clueless, he’s endearing in a distinctly English image of the play’s writer, Ben Schiffer. Daisy, on the other hand, is more of a realist. She’s had no shortage of run-ins with uglier elements of the world and still bears the scars of her many encounters. They make a lovely archetypal couple who both clash with and complement each other because one is the natural balance to the other.


This conflict would have been intriguing to watch play out and in the play’s early stages it did. The history of their relationship bled in to the present moment through the starkly differing lenses of their respective memories in a scene that would have most people smiling knowingly to themselves. Schiffer’s writing shows beautifully how small, well-intentioned thoughts can break the fragile intimacy of two people whose connection is sporadic and tenuous. Volatility creeps in and when raw nerves are touched the lack of substantive intimacy or genuine caring leaves the characters vulnerable and frightened.

The interplay between these two very different and flawed individuals had plenty to give but it was left a little underdeveloped as the characters had an ever growing amount of backstory and sub-plot to cover. By the end it felt a little much and what was most interesting about Tom and Daisy was partially lost. The dialogue shifted to a middle ground between a character and narrative voice and as a result lost some of the authenticity that made the play's opening so strong.

It was a wonderful experience to be taken into Daisy and Tom’s private world. With the darkness that usually separates audience from performers removed, so was the awkward gawking feeling that often comes with sitting in a theatrical audience but by the end though, you did feel a bit like you were intruding.

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

His Ghostly Heart
Directed by Richard Edge
Performed by Riley Nottingham and Bundy Marston
Fringe Hub - Upstairs at Errols, North Melbourne
26 September - 3 October

Melbourne Fringe Festival
16 September - 4 October


What the stars mean?
  • Five stars: Exceptional, unforgettable, a must see
  • Four and a half stars: Excellent, definitely worth seeing
  • Four stars: Accomplished and engrossing but not the best of its kind
  • Three and a half stars: Good, clever, well made, but not brilliant
  • Three stars: Solid, enjoyable, but unremarkable or flawed
  • Two and half stars: Neither good nor bad, just adequate
  • Two stars: Not without its moments, but ultimately unsuccessful
  • One star: Awful, to be avoided
  • Zero stars: Genuinely dreadful, bad on every level

About the author

Raphael Solarsh is writer from Melbourne whose work has appeared in The Guardian, on Writer’s Bloc and in a collection of short stories entitled Outliers: Stories of Searching. When not seeing shows, he writes fiction and blogs at raphaelsolarsh.com and tweets @RS_IndiLit.