Only in the Dark Can You See His Ghostly Heart

“no amount of fire or freshness can challenge what a man will store up in his ghostly heart. F Scott Fitzgerald – The Great Gatsby

Usually when I attend a live performance with my sighted partner, the moment the spotlight hits the stage, my visually-impaired eyes say good-night, Josephine.

But not so, for the evocative show, His Ghostly Heart, a one act play by UK playwright Ben Schiffer is performed entirely in the dark – now that’s my sort of live theatre!

Last night, the audience gathered on the upstairs landing of Errol’s bar, waiting to take a seat for one of the many performances in this year’s Melbourne Fringe Festival.

I was more excited than usual, knowing that I’d be sharing this small space with an audience who would not be able to see anything either.

Having played to audiences at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2009, His Ghostly Heart received rave reviews and this week, it is our turn to experience the intriguing concept of theatre through blind eyes.

Two well cast actors, Riley Nottingham and Bundy Marston, appeared from out of ……the dark.

In their double bed on the floor, Tom and Daisy share an intimate conversation that shifts from passionate sensitivity to outbursts of confused and raw emotion.

By delving into His Ghostly Heart, Tom is faced with a truth only the heart can see because only in the dark, does the truth come to light.

For a sighted audience, the wonderful challenge was allowing the sense of hearing and perception to guide us, to focus on the actors breath, to catch the rise and fall of emotions as they surface and burst from the heart while the actors moved around the physical space of the bedroom set.

Sitting in the dark, the audience was treated to the complexities of human relationships, as Tom is confronted by a haunting truth from the past.

The charming Riley Nottingham held us captive to his cheeky macho performance while Bundy Marston delivered her gut wrenching role with great sensitivity and depth of emotion. Their synergy was authentic and quietly brilliant.

It is a unique performance by these two young and talented actors. I can highly recommend this experience to Melbourne theatre goers. You will get more from a show in the dark than you might expect!

In a brief interview after the One Act play, I asked the actors in what way were they challenged by being sighted yet delivering their roles in the dark.

Riley reflected for a moment while Bundy was excited to share that “normally, you have the connection of looking someone in the eyes and drawing from their emotions. But in the dark, you have to feel and hear from your other senses which are incredibly heightened”.

Riley agreed whole-heartedly and added, “it is liberating in the dark, it really feels like it is just us in the intimate space”.

Both Bundy and Riley revealed another truth that, as a visually-impaired person did not come as a huge surprise to me. “We are (usually) conscious of people looking at us, and in the dark we are able to relax and get into the performance.”

I agree, welcome to the experience of being blind and being in touch with the wonders in the world unseen, in the performance of our lives!

Melburnians come and treat yourselves to this unique experience…only on for one week at the Melbourne Fringe.
Bravo Riley and Bundy, for your debut performance of such a haunting and evocative show that lingers long . . . .

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His Ghostly Heart

Performed by Riley Nottingham and Bundy Marston

Directed by Richard Edge

Copyright ©  Maribel Steel

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