Ghost Quartet, Boulevard Theatre | Review

Saturday, 2 November 2019

Ghost Quartet
Boulevard Theatre 
Reviewed on Friday 1st November 2019 by Olivia Mitchell 

The opening of a new theatre in central London is cause for celebration, especially when it's as wonderfully sophisticated and welcoming as the Boulevard. SODA architects have created a millennial dream with a pink-walled restaurant with delicious looking food and cocktails and a completely chilled atmosphere. Whilst, Charcoalblue have made a theatre space which is versatile, extremely comfortable and just great. The programme of late night concerts, cabarets and podcasts is an exciting one indeed and this space is sure to become a hub for new theatrical experiences. The Sketch of the theatre world, the Boulevard is certainly worth a visit!

As the inaugural show, Dave Malloy's Ghost Quartet paves the way to stray from convention. The show is pretty much a song-cycle of interlinked ghost stories, sung track by track by an amazing group of performers. The four musicians play a whole range of instruments and introduce each track as they perform it. There's also a regular breaking of the fourth wall and the audience feel part of the story throughout. The line between real life person and character becomes blurred as the performers are addressed by both their actual names and show names. They also comment on the strangeness of the story throughout in a very meta manner which works exceptionally in the space. 

We are introduced to a number of characters and stories which are eerie as opposed to scary and really don't make a tonne of sense, but that totally doesn't matter. The amazing performances and variety of musical styles make this a piece which wraps you round it's finger without having, or needing a proper plot. The circular seating adds to the feeling of being gathered round a campfire listening to stories the whole experience feels communal in a magical way.

The piece feels marvellously balanced between being off the cuff and rough around the edges but also highly sophisticated. Bill Buckhurst's direction has allowed the performers to be themselves as they interact with the audience but still maintain an aura of otherworldliness. Simon Kenny's set of piled suitcases, books and various household items allow for visual interest and frame the performers wonderfully. Emma Chapman's lighting is refined and effective. 

The cast are an exceptionally talented bunch with some of the most stunning vocal tones gracing London stages right now. Carly Bawden, Maimuna Memon, Zubin Varla and Niccolò Curradi give completely enchanting performances and share a graceful rapport with each other  and the audience. The way the performers exit the stage is completely magical and leaves you feeling warm and content, perhaps not how you'd expect to feel after a show with Ghost in the title. The vivacious performances and gripping qualities of characterisation throughout make Ghost Quartet a thrilling way to spend ninety minutes. 

Ghost Quartet runs at the Boulevard Theatre until January 4th 2019

photo credit: Marc Brenner