May 21, 2015

“The Other Thing,” a new play by Emily Schwend, spikes a ghost story with a twist of feminism. That unusual recipe gives the play a certain novelty, but Ms. Schwend’s dark drama, which can be seen at the McGinn/Cazale Theater as part of the Second Stage’s uptown summer series, ultimately comes across as preposterous. Of course tales of ghosts, zombies, vampires, werewolves and more garden-variety freaks are a strong draw on television, so Ms. Schwend’s play, about a reporter profiling a renowned ghost hunter, qualifies as on-trend, even if such tales tend to be more satisfyingly chilling on screen. The central character, Kim (Samantha Soule), has settled on a friendly old fellow named Carl (John Doman, oozing equal measures of Southern courtliness and orneriness) as the perfect subject for a piece she wants to write about ghost chasers. She joins him and his son, Brady (an amusingly cranky James Kautz), for a night vigil outside a supposedly haunted barn in Virginia. Why anyone would care whether or not a barn was haunted did occur to me more than once during the sluggish first act. Also, why would any self-respecting ghost want to hang around a barn, anyway? Still, the owner has been spooked by a light that flickers weirdly, some strange banging noises and unusual cold spots. (Sounds like my apartment almost any night this winter.)