Laura Davis’s one-person 'Ghost Machine' show features Laura Davis dressed as a ghost with lights strapped to her body as you would find on a machine.
The visual cue is literal and hides nothing, a transparent gimmick whose half-heartedness is funny in its own right.
The most entertaining existential crisis I’ve ever seen.
Much like many things about this show, it’s an element that comes across as sloppy and spontaneous, but is actually meticulously constructed to appear that way. As Laura delivers a monologue with a personal-diary level of introspection and stark honesty, she comes across as stream-of-consciousness, a breakdown ahead of us.
The ramshackle nature of the costume, with its extended light chord getting rearranged every few seconds to ensure Laura’s face gets the right lighting, is more practical in theory than in practice, reflecting many of Laura’s life decisions she explores over the course of the show.
From the atoms from which we are created to making the most of a dead-end job, the show explores an existential crisis on multiple levels. This is not a place for life-affirming positivity and answers, rather an exploration of how Laura’s life got to where it was and her perspective on this.
The delivery is so familiar and friendly that on those occasions where a call-back creeps in, it’s easy to forget that you’re at a comedy show and not simply lending an ear to a friend.
As the show progresses, Laura slowly removes the components of her outfit, as the show ventures into more and more personal territory, ending in a state with nothing left to distract other than herself.
It’s a difficult style to make something like this endearing, entertaining and thought provoking, but it’s testament to Laura’s talents that you go with her on the journey, finding common ground in places and fascination in others. The negative spin threatens to overwhelm at times, though Laura manages to raise a macabre laugh just as things get too heavy.
Laura laments at one point that this has been her most popular show to date despite it being very similar to her previous ones with the outfit being the pivotal difference. It’s a confused cynical reflection and again, no answer is provided as to why this might be or what to read into it.
Who knows what the relation of cause and effect is, but as a result Laura has been able to tour this show with relative success. You don’t have to understand something completely for it to have an impact on your life; life goes ahead and continues regardless, but sometimes you wonder why.