Theater folk love their superstitions: A ghost light is an electric light that is left turned on when the theater is empty and would otherwise be completely dark. It’s usually placed center stage and, for practical purposes, it’s there for safety so that no one trips over the set or falls into the orchestra pit.
In Ghost Light, that beacon is the first thing a summer stock troupe of Shakespearean players sees when they arrive at rustic Riverside Lodge in the Berkshire Mountains of Western Massachusetts. There’s the traditional ghost light on the stage of the old barn that’s been converted into a theater.
They’re about to mount a production of Macbeth but, as director Henry Asquith (Roger Bart) explains, superstition dictates that no one may utter the name Macbeth while they’re rehearsing in the theater, so they use the euphemism The Scottish Play.
Which doesn’t prevent resentful Thomas Ingram (Tom Riley), a jealous understudy, from impetuously yelling Macbeth over-and-over again. Despite his being chastised and performing the ritual of leaving the building and requesting to be allowed back in, a curse has been unleashed on the entire company.
Soon after, an attractive young woman, an Appalachian Trail hiker named Juliet Miller (Danielle Campbell) wanders into the theater. Since the troupe is minus one Witch, they invite her to join them, much to the dismay of ‘Witch’ Madeline Styne (Carol Kane) and her husband Elliot Wadsworth (Steve Tom).
Things then go badly not only for surly Thomas but also his adulterous lover, Liz Beth Stevens (Shannyn Sossamon) who plays Lady Macbeth, and her cuckolded husband, Alex Pankhurst (Cary Elwes), the vain leading man whose primary claim-to-fame is that, years ago, he was considered for a supporting part in the movie Tom Gun.
Scripted by Geoffrey Taylor and director John Stimpson as a horror/comedy, it’s neither funny nor suspenseful, taking far too long to get to its predictably spooky conclusion. Too talky and tedious!
On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, Ghost Light is a flickering 4. It’s feeble and forgettable