How many of us remember huddling under the bedclothes whilst an older sibling terrified us with ghost stories? The title of this show had the potential to provide that delightful frisson of fright. However this tale of late-night adventures was far more focussed on humorous, living characters rather than departed. Using various accents Phil Spencer created some memorable individuals, not least the image of a possible family member breathing his last. No ghosts here, in fact Spencer stated his position regarding the paranormal more than once; “When you’re dead, you’re dead.”
Despite a few quick laughs at the start of his performance, Spencer is not a stand-up comedian, rather he is a storyteller, painting pictures with well-chosen words, and like all good raconteurs he talks about what he knows best; his own experiences. In this case a night with a group of psychic investigators. Obviously keen on language, Spencer has a quirky turn of phrase and occasionally created beautiful, poetic passages relating to his night on Cockatoo Island with a group of “ghost hunters”. The lack of resolution of the story of the male family member’s demise was a little frustrating; there was obviously a clear connection in Spencer’s mind but it never quite reached a satisfactory connection in that of the audience. However he is an affable young man and it was apparent that the audience liked him and felt warmly toward him.
Full marks to Spencer for his powers of concentration. As he reached the latter stages of his monologue the raucous music from elsewhere in the building was incredibly distracting for the audience but he didn’t drop a beat.
He was accompanied by Julia Johnson singing and playing banjo. Her most successful contribution to the performance was as the creator of some eerie and atmospheric sound effects. It almost seemed she might be on stage just to give Spencer a breather as her songs were only loosely connected to his monologue.
Nevertheless this was an entertaining and enjoyable evening and will no doubt win Phil Spencer new audiences.