Deborah Puette is luminous, but the four vignettes that comprise Tommy Smith’s Ghost Light add up to a rather low-wattage half-hour solo show.

Ghost-Light_3 Echo Theater Company calls Ghost Light a “poignant, poetic rumination on love and loss, innocence and age,” a frustratingly (yet appropriately) vague description, since perhaps only playwright Tommy Smith could shed light on what links this quartet of mostly first-person performance pieces aside from their star.

“The Fog” has Puette reminiscing about a day she and her big city friends got lost in (you guessed it) some pea-soup-thick fog. In “Lotus Eaters,” a young girl welcomes a boatload of armor-clad sailors home from the sea with cups of tea intended to keep them from shipping off again. The Brit who narrates “Madelines” takes heroin, then finds herself inspired to film a series of men in gradually swelling states of arousal (though she does keep their heads out of frame). “Hexakosioihexekontahexaphobia” (i.e., the fear of the number 666, who knew?) is the third-person tale of a woman and a cat who just can’t seem to get along.

Ghost-Light_4 Though it’s anyone’s guess what we’re supposed to take away from the half-hour, Puette is a magnetic stage presence as always, director Chris Fields gives her enough business to keep things from getting too static, and Matt Richter makes us believe that his lighting design comes from a single theatrical ghost light “on the set of an unrelated play.”*

Ghost-Light_2 At the very least, Ghost Light is short (running several minutes under thirty), and Puette fans who find themselves near Atwater Village might want to check out the latest from one of L.A.’s most gifted stage stars.

Otherwise, Smith’s curious compilation of playets does little to inspire or hold an audience’s interest.

*Playwright’s note: “Ghost Light is meant to be performed immediately following the performance of another show, on that show’s set. Aside from this workshop showing, it is never meant to be a stand-alone piece. Rather, it’s meant to use the energy of the previous performance to fuel its own themes. It’s a morsel, dessert, the B side of the record.”

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Atwater Village Theatre, 3269 Casitas Ave, Atwater Village.

–Steven Stanley
August 5, 2015
Photos: Troy Blendell


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