Billed as "a deadly romantic comedy", Ghost of a Chance by Flip Kobler and Cindy Marcus appears at first to have a lot going for it; but the authors can't seem to settle on what their play is going to be, and switch gears in Act II, much to the detriment of the comedy.
Directed by Susan Chain and staged on John Chain's finely detailed set, it begins as a witty story about Bethany [Heather Allen], a young widow, with fiance Floyd [Miles Joye] in tow, who arrives to sell her deceased husband's hunting lodge before embarking on a second marriage. Accompanied by her busybody soon-to-be mother-in-law Verna [Pat McClelland], Bethany is shocked when the ghost of her dead husband Chance [Brandon Gonzalez] shows up. -- Get it? Ghost of a Chance!!!
Bethany hires a "medium" named Crystal [Karla McGhee] to exorcise the ghost before Adam [Michael Snead] arrives to purchase the cabin. -- Of course, Chance is visible and audible only to Bethany, setting up a series of clever scenes where dialogue addressed to the unseen Chance is misinterpreted by the other characters.
Though clearly derivative of Noel Coward's Blithe Spirit, and with references to the delightful film The Ghost and Mrs. Muir, Act I is full of comic possibilities; but slow pacing and tentative movement make much of it fall flat.
And then, the play changes gears at the end of the first act, with revelations of attempted suicide and terminal diseases. -- Act II then becomes more serious and didactic about love and relationships, making the most of life and the cards we're dealt, business ethics, greed, and the afterlife, driving points home with a preachy quality, and leaving the actors struggling to maintain the play's initial comic impulses.
Energy lapses all too frequently, and in an over two hour playing time, many of the clever lines are hardly audible. -- Too bad, really, since the first act and the combined efforts of the cast make one want to enjoy it more.