GHOST LIGHT at Berkeley Rep is opaque and abstruse.

At Berkeley Rep, Tyler James Myers (left) and Peter Macon star in the world-premiere production of Ghost Light, written by Tony Taccone and directed by Jonathan Moscone.Photo courtesy of

GHOST LIGHT: Drama. By Tony Taccone. Directed by Jonathan Moscone. Berkeley Repertory's Thrust Stage, 2025 Addison St., Berkeley. (510) 647-2949 or Through February 19, 2012

GHOST LIGHT at Berkeley Rep is opaque and abstruse.

Having missed the world premiere of Ghost Light , a combined production by Oregon Shakespeare Festival (OSF) and Berkeley Rep as part of “American Revolutions : The United States History Cycle“, a special trip to the Bay Area was undertaken from Palm Springs to see the play. The trip was not rewarding, the production confusing and fragmented giving a strong feeling of being a “play in progress.”

Ghost Light is the inspiration of two celebrated Bay Area Artistic directors, Berkeley Rep’s Tony Taccone and California Shakespeare Company’s (CalShakes) Jonathan Moscone. In November 1978, a week after the murder of Congressman Leo Ryan and the mass suicide of the People’s Temple at Jonestown, San Francisco Mayor George Moscone and gay Supervisor Harvey Milk were assassinated by homophobic Dan White. It caused a cataclysmic outcry from the gay community and apparently a long lasting internal conflict within Moscone’s 14 year old son Jonathan. Using that as its postulate the author weaves a convoluted a bizarre tale of father and son relationship through actual fact, added fiction and physical non-ghostly apparitions.

The over dramatized assumption is that young Jonathan (hereby referred to as Jon) showed early signs of emotional trauma when he refused to leave the coffin of his slain father. Jon carries this turmoil over into his adult life as a director when struggles to stage the Ghost scene in Hamlet. (As a side note, CalShakes is mounting Hamlet at the Bruns amphitheater as part of their 2012 season. Moscone will not be the director) The first act is composite series of real actions and unconscious dream ramblings accentuating not only Jon’s inner demons/turmoil but also the actual turmoil his screwed up psyche induces in those around him. The battles within him are hardly that of good and evil, rather the battle of mind over matter in deciding his future personae.

As written, and under Moscone’s direction, Jon’s character as an adult stage director takes a verbal /visceral beating from the overly gay gyrations of actor Christopher Liam Moore. Those overlong scenes emphasizing Jon’s fixation on the Ghost father in Hamlet ineffectively beats to a pulp the obvious metaphor of living in the shadow of his dead father. Taccone is listed as the author (in collaboration with Moscone) and the writing shows the weaknesses of a first play and surely will be revised.The scenes involving teenage Jon (Tyler James Myers) and imaginary lover (the hunky Danforth Comins) are well handled. The dream (ghosts) antagonists played by Peter Macon and Bill Geisslenger do not add depth and are actually confusing.

Berkeley Rep has had a string of fantastically successful home grown and imported productions. Their quality production values are legion and once in a while they do “deserve” a faux pas. Running time is 2 hours and 40 minutes but it seems longer.

Kedar K. Adour, MD

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