A quirky supernatural comedy, John Stimpson’s Ghost Light pokes a lot of fun at the world of theatre and all its ticks and eccentricities. The film (named after the lone light always left burning on a stage) sees a theatre troupe arrive in a quiet Massachusetts town as they prepare to perform Macbeth, William Shakespeare’s superstitious classic. Things go wrong when the play’s jealous understudy (Tom Riley) says the Scottish play’s true name on stage. This sets-off a chain of events which culminates in a live performance which doesn’t quite go according to plan.
There’s plenty of enjoyment to be had with Ghost Light. The cast enjoy the broader aspects of the material, embracing the comedy and having fun sending up the theatre world. Cary Elwes is a hoot as the Soap Opera star looking for kudos in Macbeth’s title role, while his one-time Princess Bride co-star, Carol Kane, plays a Maggie Smith-style actress who doesn’t know the meaning of subtlety when she’s on stage.
Tom Reilly has the most to do as the understudy who is having an affair with the play’s leading lady (Shannyn Sossamon) – who also happens to be the leading man’s wife! Reilly’s character is eager to score the title role at any cost, a quandary which mirrors the problems facing Macbeth himself in the play. Roger Bart is the play’s long suffering director, working hard to keep the talent happy ensuring that the show really does go on.
Stimpson’s direction is light and breezy which keeps the film moving along at an impressive pace, helped by Ed Grenga’s frothy musical score. Cinematographer Terrence Hayes gives the film a wonderfully rich visual sheen which adds real character to proceedings and his work perfectly highlights Chad Detwiller’s rich production design.
Ghost Light gets a lot right but it does make a few missteps along the way. Not every jokes lands and the scatter-gun focus on characters makes the film feel a little uneven at times. It’s nothing too critical though and it’s not enough to hinder your enjoyment of the film.
A fun dig at the theatre and those who work within it, Ghost Light is a breezy comedy of errors which uses Shakespeare’s finest tragedy as a starting point for some supernatural hijinks. The film’s cast is game and the top-tier behind-the-scenes talent means this is a good-looking independent film which can stand toe-to-toe with movies which have five times the budget.