Review: Specters of the Stage Enchant in ‘Ghost Light’

Featuring sets by Brett J. Banakis and lighting by Eric Southern, “Ghost Light” transforms the compact, contemporary Claire Tow into a labyrinthine, old-fashioned show palace. Audience members are led in groups onstage and backstage; through dressing, storage and rehearsal rooms; and only at the very last into the sort of seats to which they are accustomed.

Though you will pass through the corridors more than once, the view keeps changing, and you half expect the floor to dissolve beneath your feet. The artists of Third Rail are masters of the skewed perspective. A large mirror in a prop room is angled so that you witness the reflection of backstage mayhem, as cast and crew repeatedly rush through costume and scenery changes, with only the slightest variations.

You will also find yourself looking down from balconies and landings onto intimate scenes of revelry and disaster, embodied by a lithe and comely parade of performers, who wear their characters’ egos on their sleeves. There’s a couple enacting an erotic pas de deux among the stage and seating areas of the main house; a group of partner-changing hedonists in a bar where the piano plays itself; an actress writhing on a staircase after downing a bottle of laudanum.


Niko Tsocanos holding Marissa Nielsen-Pincus aloft in “Ghost Light.”

Sara Krulwich/The New York Times

I had met this dying diva earlier. That was in her dressing room; I brought her roses, which had been plopped into my arms by a stage manager. She wore gold lamé (Montana Levi Blanco is the costume designer) and the perfume of gaudy desperation.

She asked us, far too eagerly, if we had really loved her performance. She then recruited an audience member to run lines with her from a new script. Funny thing, though — those lines were identical to what she had said earlier in talking to us,…

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