Melbourne-based director and producer Gabrielle Reiher and writer and producer Michael Thebridge have teamed up again to create Ghosted – an original comedic work that will open on Chapel Off Chapel later this month. A fun, wacky and absurd tale based on the modern day dating phenomenon known as ghosting, Ghosted is a comedy with  boo-factor!

The tale, as Thebridge tells it, is about a young man (Oliver) who invites a stranger (Kyle) over to his apartment for some company (or as Kyle sees it, a hook up). Things go about as awkwardly as you’d expect, and Kyle attempts to ghost Oliver – only to get run-down by the rideshare he’d called to make a sneaky getaway. Kyle ends up stuck in the apartment as a ghost – leaving Oliver and his best friend Jordan in desperate need of a way to get him out. Hilarity (and lunacy) ensues!

All this is right up Thebridge’s alley, so to speak, as he loves creating comedic stories that are filled with characters and conversations the audience can relate to as well as giving them that extra dose of absurdity that turns the whole thing on its head. As in this story’s case, where the idea of getting ghosted on a bad date doesn’t feel too far removed from the truth. But, having the ghost of that bad date stuck in your apartment is (hopefully) a predicament that’s out of the ordinary for the audience!

Thebridge goes on to explain that comedy is 110% the genre he feels most at home in.

“I like storytelling that’s grounded in authentic characters and dialogue – so that they feel real and relatable, even if the events of the plot are more out-of-the-ordinary,” he says. “It’s always so much more rewarding for the audience if they can see themselves and their relationships reflected in the comedy on-stage. You give people twice as many reasons to laugh!”

Also, being a part of the LGBTIQ+ community, Thebridge, loves telling stories that feature characters from that same community – particularly if he can do so in a way that isn’t always the norm on stage! “I generally steer clear of using a character’s sexual orientation or gender as a definitive trait of their character or as a plot mechanic,” he says. “It’s just another part of who they are and how the audience can connect with them.”

Thematically the play concerns itself with life and death, which are the key themes of the play. Thebridge was particularly interested in the ways fear, anxiety and self-doubt actually stop people from living life to the fullest – and how we’d feel if our time with the living wrapped up a little earlier than expected. “Besides that, it’s a story about friendship – about forming genuine connections and relationships that are solid enough to withstand even the most insane of circumstances,” he says. “Of course, dating in the 21st century landscape of Tinder, Grindr, etc. gets a look-in too!”

Thebridge, and theatre-maker, Reiher (who, under the name Gabrielle Savrone, managed the Owl and Cat Theatre in Richmond for 3 years) had previously collaborated on another original work, After Party, which made its successful Australian debut at the Owl & Cat theatre in 2015. In fact, it was at the Owl and Cat that the two future collaborators would meet and the rest, as they say, is history.

“I first met the lovely Gabrielle back in 2014, when she was just taking over the Owl and Cat Theatre in Richmond,” says Thebridge. “We immediately connected on both a personal and a creative level and I loved her fearlessness – both in running the Owl and Cat independently and in the work she was putting on the stage there.”

“Gab ended up directing my first play, After Party, in 2015, and that’s when our creative partnership really started to take shape. The show was such a rewarding experience, and I felt like Gab really understood my sense of humour and the way I wanted my comedy to come to life on-stage. We started working on Ghosted together in 2018 after a few years spent doing different projects (for screen, etc.) – and this script felt like the right work for us to come back together and collaborate again. She had such an exciting vision for the direction of the script onstage, full of colour and light and energy – like last time, she got my script 100%. Although, for what it’s worth, I think we’ve one-upped ourselves this time around!”

Ghosted seems to be firmly rooted between them as the future plans are to adapt the work as a series for the screen – which, for them both, is incredibly exciting! “We’ve already started shooting some content, so the ball is well and truly rolling with that project,” he says. Besides that, Thebridge is also putting the finishing touches on his next play – a comedy with a heavy dose of farce thrown in – and beginning production on a short film he’s written.

But the present prime focus for the duo is Ghosted, which promises to give audiences something new and unexpected as well as laughs. What more can you ask for!

Says Thebridge: ” For both Gabrielle and I, the main takeaway we want audiences to have is just how much FUN you can have at the theatre! Whether you’re a first-time theatregoer swapping streaming or the cinema for the live stage, or you’re a regular who’s looking for something refreshingly different, you’ll find it with Ghosted. It’s like a sitcom that’s come to life on-stage – full of colour and life and energy. You won’t be bored – and you WILL be laughing!”

May 30, 2019 @ 7:30pm – June 1, 2019 @ 7:30pm

Images: Greggory Workman & Gabrielle Reiher and illustrated image Sam Baines