The Vaults (Pit) Leake Street
Getting your own place in London, somewhere you are not renting, can these days be quite a step up in the world. No wonder the unnamed character in Ghost House is initially elated.
The flat in the refurbished Balfrom Tower seems a good idea, especially given its popularity with Russian and Chinese property investors, though they never intended to live there. They just wanted to make huge sums for doing nothing at all, a favourite pastime of the global rich.
As a consequence, our man with no name soon finds he and the doorman are the only bodies in the building. Alone in his flat, with few social contacts elsewhere, he starts to hear and see things in the block that might not be there.
In this sixty-minute monologue performed by Victor Alli as the character with no name, we hear of his fleeting, awkward contacts with others. There is the woman at the party who is trying to avoid anything romantic happening with him, a plumber who reveals the building isn't quite as refurbished as he imagined and the bailiffs who eventually come banging on his door.
The storyline is intriguing and certainly a lot could be written about the scandal of Balfron House in East London which kicked out its social tenants in the wild pursuit of money. However, the play lacks a sharp focus, doesn't develop any dramatic tension and never gives us enough to care what happens next.
The political backdrop of communities being messed up by foreign capital seems generally irrelevant to the story, the ghosts haunting the block are merely the symptom of a distressed mind and that distress is never particularly explored beyond the suggestion of loneliness and the grief at the death of the unnamed character’s mother. All these things could either separately or linked together be the material for strong drama, but Ghost House still needs work to be that drama.
Reviewer: Keith Mckenna