There are two ways of approaching Ghost Track, a piece written by Claire Hind and Gary Winters (of Lone Twin) and co-directed by Hind and Third Angel’s Alexander Kelly. One is to spend the time searching for the references promised in the blurb – from Ghost Dance and Peter Brook’s King Lear to Slavoj Žižek and Gertrude Stein – although this intellectual endeavour might mean missing out on the actual performance. The other, more productive one, is to drown in Hind’s honest depiction of her self-confessed neuroses.
With the self-deprecation and matter-of-fact delivery akin to a stand up comic Claire Hind splurges out story after story that shows how real, grown-up fears inevitably express themselves in childish, over the top and generally erratic behaviour. Her overindulgent Electra complex has resulted in a total of seven fathers – including but not limited to the biological, academic and spiritual ones – while her anxieties result in a obsessive need to choose and control the (supposedly) magic number of pounds she pays for gas. This long list of revealed idiosyncrasies is balanced by an equal amount of more every-day accounts of medical problems, family life and childhood nightmares. Somewhat intriguingly, possibly due to their inherent theatricality, Hind is more at home and relaxed when she goes into the details of her mild neuroses, than when she discloses the more mundane, but perhaps more intimate details of her life. The uneasiness and stiffness that’s palpable each time the narrative skips from ‘crazy’ to ‘normal’ has even taken the toll on how the piece was staged. One of the opening sections, where Hind announces only one of her vocal cords takes part in making her voice audible, is tempered with unnecessary and forced prop-problems, that make the whole section seem uncandid and clumsy.
The autobiographical parts of the performance are complemented with several renditions of King Lear’s opening scene. As the piece progresses so does the story of an old man and his three daughters – performed, on each occasion with more details and ‘add-ons’. The most important of these is the use of a nano-pad, that plays various background noises, and helps connect the two narratives together: the sound device is the author’s backup plan in case of a permanent and unresolvable vocal cord problem. This gadget helps formally connect Hind’s exploration into her fears of loss with the theatrical reference she chose – but it doesn’t do much more than that. It’s too simple, or perhaps even used in too simple a way to hold much interest, and it regrettably remains a technical trick.
While Ghost Track is often playful and honest, it constantly seems to lack a certain coherence. There’s an inevitable impression that the substantial research that went into devising this piece did not always find an adequately complex performative shape and form. The relations between the two main dramaturgical points of the performance are so easy to establish it seems inevitable that their relationship on paper is layered and co-dependent. It’s Hind’s short film, Kong Lear, shown here in double bill, that quickly reveals what Ghost Track is missing. This 8mm silent video, which uses the intertitles to introduce the thoughts of a King Kong character with a crown on his head, merges the different, discrepant concepts together by taking a clear step back from them and allowing for an abundance of absurdity. In an attempt to be over-encompassing but clear and ultimately serious, Ghost Track ditches any attempt to venture into those territories and misses out on the essential trick that could have prevented it from being over-ambitious but underachieving.