Ghost Therapy – ZOO Playground

Written & Directed by Jaz Skingle

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Do you suffer from low self-esteem? Addiction troubles? Perhaps you have a complex relationship with your family who treat you as something opaque, not quite there. Or maybe, just maybe, you have an irrational fear of feathery fowl.

It might please you to know that in death, these issues don’t go away. Sorry…

But there’s someone who can help with that. For even beyond the grave, a mental check-up is highly recommended, and it’s just a lucky thing that our resident ghost therapist has years, and years, and years… of spare time to help you.

A marvellous grim concept, of the therapeutic needs of the denizens of the dead, Jaz Skingle’s Ghost Therapy has a wealth of possibilities to draw upon and a steady nerve at the helm to ensure their initial Edinburgh Festival Fringe goes with as few bumps in the night as possible. Initially commissioned for the Colchester Fringe, Ghost Therapy unearths the barren land of the graveyard, sifting for treasure, and exploring the realm of the supernatural, realising – ghosts too have problems.

Because even the dead have unresolved issues. It’s a veritable conveyor belt of family trauma, anxieties, and doubts, and for one particularly sweet-toothed Spectre, it’s all about living up to the family business. But someone is here for them. She hasn’t got any other choice. Dr Soul, Trenetta Jones, is an utter force; elegant and ferocious within the same sentence – fully capable of holding both the audience or balancing the more bombastic energy of the spectral haunts plaguing her waking days. Wit is sharp with Jones, who elevates Skingle’s script to allow the cannier aspects of writing to flourish.

Returning cast members Charlie Vaugn, Emma Pallet and Ewan Purser all contribute to the success of the show, with Pallet’s stroppy and downright moody phantom an absolute delight – and frankly impressive given her commitment levels while undertaking physical gags, channelling the dry humour of one Terry Pratchett’s Hogfather.

Pertaining an element of caution, Ghost Therapy covers all the bases – with comedic novelties and physical humour for a younger audience (who take a particular liking to Charlie Vaugn’s antics), and a more razor use of nihilism and, yes, somehow making puns clever. A fair feat indeed. Elements do strike of an initial Fringe performance, but nothing overtly detracts. A tightening of precisely who the show is for, and the subsequent alterations to the script which follow, will result in a more concentrated show that Skingle can confidently adapt, work with and evolve.

But when something like Ghost Therapy comes along which shrieks; ‘Fringe’ – it reminds you what it’s all about. Away from the politics and tourists, the big names and Big-4, for many, the Festival Fringe is a point of emergence, learning, and an expression of creativity, something Ghost Therapy benefits from, and demonstrates with relative ease. 

A remarkable achievement for Skingle, eighteen and presenting her funded and produced show (something many can only ever dream of). Ghost Therapy is the emergence of talent and a bloody fine start. Humorous, with an edge of cleverness, a tightening of the jokes and pacing could very well result in a show which spans for aeons into the afterlife. Jaz Skingle productions can safely leave the city in the confidence of their success and leave any spectral haunts or worries at the door.

Because there’s absolutely no question that they’ll be back.

‘This is the Fringe’

Ghost Therapy runs at ZOO Playground until August 13th.

Tickets for which are available here.

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