Henrik Ibsen’s “Ghosts” at The Pearl Theatre Company on St. Marks Place in the East Village works.  There are flashes of fine acting, especially from Tom Galantich as Pastor Manders.  Tom has played Broadway, his credits including “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels” and “Mamma Mia.”  His palpable angst as the pastor who has had ample opportunity to resist temptation and has risen to the calling by resisting two very desirable women is where he shines.  Not lost on him that the comely young Regina has “filled out” since last he saw her. I generally prefer actors who underplay their roles, allowing the audience to glean the emotions with which the characters struggle.  Galantich does that very well.

Some, not all, of the supporting performances are convincing enough, and none are so weak as to be distracting. And that, after all, is what we expect from good theatre.  Make it believable and sometimes make it great. I like realism, though, and while heavy rain is supposed to be falling, the umbrella and clothing are dry and there are no sound effects.  A small point perhaps, but involve me in all my senses.  I am gullible. Make me believe.

Artistic Director Shepard Sobel speaks of classical theatre as art that goes deeper than lessons in specific circumstances.  He speaks of providing a rudder for the audience to navigate our species journey in history, and claims the lofty vision of existing to change the world and the members of the audience.  To some extent all serious theatre aspires to that, and even air-headed musicals, by bringing joy, however momentary, make the world a better place.

“Ghosts” as drama reminds us that all of our personal histories are full of specters.  Wherever we go we are haunted and part of our calling as humans is to come to peace with them;  to go on in spite of the bad ones while holding hands with the good ones.  I think we are the only animals with that ability, be it curse or blessing.  Do chimpanzees feel the weight of their pasts or just the very real pains of their bodies?  We can never know.