Every year since 2017 I have looked forward to the end of October and the coming of Ghost Quartet. It is a tradition that Theater Elision has continued since its inaugural season. The song cycle by Dave Malloy (most known for Great Comet) is a both meditative and percussive look at life and death, sisters, daughters, mothers, lovers, time...and ghosts.
It is a show that can be experienced at many different levels, and I feel as though every year I see it I appreciate it at a new level. On one level it is an experience of all surrounding live music. Ghost Quartet is a concept album, throughout the show we are told where we are with reference to sides and tracks. The voices of the four person cast comprised of Kellen McMillen, Quinn Shadko, Tristen Sima and Christine Wade pierce through the lobby of the Elision Playhouse and in combination with a wide array of musical instruments fill the space with sound.
On another level it is an experience of communal theater. In its new home the production is much less dark. Staged in the round you are able to see not only the performance but through it to the other side where additional audience members sit. Allowing you to not only watch the show, but watch others watching the show with you. The experience reminded me of shows that I have seen at Ten Thousand Things Theater. As someone who loves theater for the excitement of seeing a performance live, and sharing that experience with others Ghost Quartet is a thrill. At times throughout the show you are handed percussion instruments being able to not only experience a work of theater with a group of strangers but being able to contribute to its creation as well.
On another level it is an exciting exploration of a story and of a theme. Ghost Quartet is a story of two sisters, Pearl and Rose and their relationship throughout time, in love and in hate. The repeating of their story strips away time and elevates the strength of relationships. Relationships that are present and the ones that linger like ghosts. Perhaps it is just the science fiction fan in me talking but I enjoy stretching my mind to picture non linear narratives.
Lastly for me Ghost Quartet is poetry. I am a fan of not only Dave Malloys music but his lyrics as well. Along with the music they evoke emotions and reckon back to my past life experiences in a way that no other writer of musical theater does.
Ghost Quartet continues through October 31st at the Elision Playhouse in Crystal. Click here for more information about the show and how to get tickets.