Image: Images: Clare Hawley

By Shon Ho

One day we will die and that is a fact of life. Ghosting the Party opens with an extensive list of the many horrific ways it could happen – spurring an honest, funny and touching conversation about an ultimate certainty without skirting around the edges.

Grace (Belinda Giblin) is 87, everyone she knows is gone, her beige Velcro shoes are humiliating and she does not want to live anymore. Dorothy (Jillian O’Dowd), her divorced 57- year old daughter is the embodiment of gentle optimism in a pastel pink sweater and thinks her mother is joking. Grand-daughter Suzie (Amy Hack), 34, returns home to Australia from her cutthroat job in Montreal to attend her great Aunt’s funeral, carrying her own baggage.

Written by Melissa Bubnic, Ghosting the Party (winner of the Lysicrates Prize in 2017) is caustically funny, clever and completely full of life. The cast are impeccable in their comedic timing as they contemplate questions about death and family that are too large to solve. Giblin brings acerbic wit and relentless resolve to Grace who is determined to choose how and when she goes. O’Dowd infuses long-suffering Dorothy with cheery enthusiasm as she tries to do her best with what she has, while Hack delivers rooted pragmatism in Suzie who clashes with her mother about what she wants from life.

The three women are brought together in Isabel Hudson’s suburban lounge room set, decked out in top to bottom milky green floral wallpaper and wispy white curtains. Here they explore the recognisable complexities of mother-daughter dynamics, the embodied anxieties that are passed down from one generation to the next and the consequences of women caring too much.

Director Andrea James deftly commands the fine line between humour and tragedy; tackling questions of mortality with raucous hilarity, lightness and astute insight. Verity Hampson’s lighting design effortlessly traverses the shades of the day while Phil Downing’s soundscape captures the mellow hum of suburbia and weaves together contrasting vignettes to round off the production.

As we ponder about how to best care for aging relatives and dying with dignity, there is an inexplicable helplessness in wanting to hold on. Particularly timely, with NSW recently legalising voluntary assisted dying – the play explores the difficult questions of life and death with great humanity and leaves you with a warm embrace.

 Until June 11. Griffin Theatre, 13 Craigend St, Darlinghurst. $20-$62+b.f. Tickets & Info:


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