By John Lyle Belden
“Over My Dead Body,” a one-hour one-act by Jean Blasiar on stage at Buck Creek Players, bears a small resemblance to a present TV series about ghosts taking issue with how the living folk take care of “their” house. Like that show, this play is more charming than chilling, with this story giving emphasis on family and preserving what’s important.
Dearly departed Miranda and Ben Gould (Melissa DeVito and Brad Burns) like to hang out in the rafters of the family home, which daughter-in-law Stella (Tiffany D. Wilson) wants to get rid of. Ben and Miranda’s son Frank (Dennis Karr) doesn’t mind the presence of long-gone relatives and the home’s spooky reputation; he is uncertain about the move – or if the spirits will even allow it. Frank and Stella’s daughter Jessica (Jeanna Little) likes the idea of moving from Pennsylvania to Florida, while son Dylan (Grant Bowen) definitely does not – wielding ghost-hunter gear, he devotedly contacts his grandparents as best he can.
To make the house salable, Stella calls on medium Horatia (Beth Popplewell) to attempt an exorcism. Miranda counters with intervention by St. Francis of Assisi (Ron Pittman) himself. Mary Miller and Cheryl Croghan hang around as mischievous spirits. Nickie Cornett directs.
The actors playing ghosts are having a ghoulishly good time, especially DeVito in her well-intentioned grandmotherly urge to make things the way she feels they should be. Burns as her husband is taking it easy in the afterlife – sort of a “grateful dead” was my first thought. Karr has Frank share his late father’s let-it-ride attitude, while Wilson and Little have Stella and Jessica working their conflict between the family oddness and the desire to live a more “normal” life. Meanwhile, Bowen plays Dylan as a “buster” on the side of the ghosts. Creepy cuties Miller and Croghan become the literal deux ex machina with a well-timed possession. Popplewell makes Horatia as entertaining as she is incompetent.
And St. Francis would have me remind all that the Gould family “cat” is still missing.
This show is a nice way to start the “spooky season,” especially for families with children, as any scares are “Scooby-Doo” level and at the end the cast come out with their buckets of treats (no tricks!).
Remaining performances are Friday through Sunday, Oct. 7-9, at the Buck Creek Playhouse, 11150 Southeastern Ave. (Acton Road Exit off I-74. Get info and tickets at buckcreekplayers.com.