Don’t Blink Your Eyes
Stars: Cary Elwes, Carol Kane, Shannyn Sossaman, Danielle Campbell, Roger Bart, Tom Riley, Scott Adsit, Caroline Portu, Sheldon Best and Alex Portenko
Director: John Stimpson
Scriptwriters: John Stimpson and Geoffrey Taylor
Composer: Ed Grenga
Cinematographer: Terrence Hayes
Rating: No Rating but could be PG 13
Running Length: 105 Minutes
A “ghost light” in live theater is a light that is kept on when the stage is empty. Otherwise, strange things may happen. You know when the ghost light goes out, mayhem isn’t far behind. In this story, a traveling theater group has quite an adventure in the Northeast part of the States, where autumn foliage is brilliant to behold and a theater is less than perfect. As we follow the motor carriage to present “Macbeth,” you can leave the regular world behind. The soundtrack by Ed Grenga adds to this film with just the right touch at just the right time. The title song, “Bump In The Night” is catchy.
Cary Elwes (“Princess Bride” fame) stars as Alex playing Macbeth. and he is the lead actor who can’t put two sentences together. Shannyn Sossaman is his long-suffering wife, Liz, who plays Lady Macbeth. Tom Riley plays Duncan, while Carol Kane is the Head Witch of the Three Witches. Thus, goes “Macbeth” by William Shakespeare, revamped by director/scriptwriters John Stimpson and Geoffrey Taylor.
The little theater group, lead by Henry, the director (Roger Bart) heads to a small theater for a special production of “Macbeth.” They arrive in the fall countryside to find the theater is run-down, their accommodations are average, backstage equipment is mediocre, and their lead actor, Alex, still can’t remember his lines. Liz, puts up with him, but prefers the company of someone else.. We get to meet the actors and backstage people as they prepare for their performance. There are quips and humorous moments, also provided by the housekeepers/cooks who have a Norwegian-style dialogue. Carol Kane, as Madeline, goes overboard with everything, and theatrics is just her cup of tea, besides clashing with Henry. As rehearsals progress, we learn of theater superstitions such as “no whistling in a theater, keep the ghost light on, and you can’t say the word ‘Macbeth’ outside the theater.” The two actors (Sheldon Best and Alex Portenko) who play the assassins, have quite a time finding their costumes at the last minute and getting on stage. Oh, and then there is the entrance of a hiker, Juliet (Danielle Campbell) who just happens to be in the neighborhood. Need a substitute witch? Guess who…
Cary Elwes as Alex, goes pleasantly over the top in his depiction of an actor who is tolerated by the troupe and his wife, but if he weren’t there, no one would miss him. Shannyn Sossaman’s Liz, is the embodiment of patience and guile, as she puts up with Alex. A true Lady Macbeth. Tom Riley as Thomas/Duncan, likes to go on stage and act when no one is there. Carol Kane’s interpretation of the Head Witch is, as the director says, “enough to scare children, remember they could be in the audience.” The person who steals his scenes is Roger Bart as Henry, the director, who has to put up with everyone’s ego while putting together a play. His facial expressions and quips are right on time.
“Ghost Light” will gently lead you down a pathway you did not expect. For those who have worked in small theater groups, you will recognize last minute changes, substitutions and missing props. Superstitions are just that, carriers from past omens. How this works in “Ghost Light” is a gem. It will take you by the hand, lead you to the stage, and then…
Copyright 2019 Marie Asner