Real Dead Ghosts (Shelby Company) 2014 Toronto Fringe Review


Real Dead Ghosts (by Shelby Company, playing the Toronto Fringe Festival) begins quietly on the stage of the Robert Gill Theatre. A couple sits on stage, describing a surreal moment of terror. Then, the scene morphs and they are in a cabin in the woods. At this moment, I wonder if the play is going to twist into a horror story or possibly an homage to The Sixth Sense. I was prepared to see some real dead ghosts, but I found something better.

The play is less about ghouls and more about a couple trying to sort out their issues the night before their wedding anniversary. The couple Amber and Graham are haunted by certain aspects of their pasts. They fear that they will be doomed to repeat these scenarios for eternity, much like a ghost with “unfinished business”. The two are haunted by their memories, which can seem as scary as any spectre.

Amber (Lara Hillier) and Graham (Nathaniel Kent) begin the night in what seems like a typical sit-com lovers quarrel. The wife is a high-strung shrew, while the husband is a funny man who has yet to prove himself as an adult. As the argument fleshes out, so do the characters. Amber and Graham become complicated and confusing. I found myself simultaneously detesting and loving these characters.

Real Dead Ghosts, written by Jonathan A. Goldberg, has a strong script. I felt like the play could dip between heavy moments and light moments with ease. The dialogue pushed back and forth between Amber and Graham like a real argument. It was not an argument between enemies, but the fight of a long-term couple who find it too easy to forgive and too easy to blame their partner. The direction by Courntey Ulrich, along with Hillier and Kent’s portrayals, really made the script shine.

Real Dead Ghosts is an entertaining and thoughtful play. I laughed at the sharp writing and the mentions of Tobey Maguire. I mused over the ideas of memory, honesty, and healthy relationships. This play has a lot to offer and I completely recommend it to anyone who wants more than the average comedy.


Real Dead Ghosts (Shelby Company) is playing at the Robert Gill Theatre on 214 College Street. Use the St. George entrance and go up to the 3rd floor.

Warning: Frank language and Sexuality

Remaining Performances:

July 03 at 10:30 PM
July 06 at 05:45 PM
July 09 at 12:15PM
July 10 at 05:45 PM
July 11 at 09:45 PM
July 12 at 08:45 PM

Tickets for all mainstage productions are $10 at the door, cash only. Advance tickets are $12, and can be purchased online, by phone (416-966-1062), or from the festival box office at the Fringe Club. (Rear of Honest Ed’s, 581 Bloor St. West). Money-saving value packs are also available if you are going to at least five shows; see website for details.

LATECOMERS ARE NEVER ADMITTED TO FRINGE SHOWS. To avoid disappointment, be sure to arrive a few minutes before curtain.