Emma Knights Productions
Until 02 Mar 2019

Review by Paige Mulholland

Presented at the 2019 Adelaide Fringe Festival

Whom wilt thou call? Not “Ghostbusters” (because of copyright issues). “Ministers of Grace: The Unauthorised Shakespearean Parody of Ghostbusters” plays a dangerous game of taking two beloved things – Shakespeare and “Ghostbusters” – and mushing them together. Although this reviewer’s lack of exposure to “Ghostbusters” definitely affected her comprehension of the storyline, the “Ministers of Grace” team managed to entertain, surprise and sometimes even spook its small audience with humour and wit.

Your “Ministers of Grace” experience begins long before the show’s start time, with members of the ensemble venturing into the foyer with lutes and drums to make conversation with the audience, leading them into the auditorium and chatting right up until the theatre begins to dim. This was a fun addition, but became a little awkward after 15-or-so minutes of ad-libbing and engaging with the small audience and made it unclear for the audience whether the show had started early or whether they could continue to buy drinks/use the bathroom/settle in for the show. A clean start at the beginning of the show, or even a five minute preview in the foyer followed by a quick break for the actors before curtain, would be a slicker approach.

If you’ve seen “Ghostbusters”, you’ll recognise the plot of this show – from the characters to the storyline and even many of the jokes, “Ministers of Grace” is scene-for-scene almost exactly like the original, just with an Elizabethan setting and plenty of fun Shakespeare references thrown in. It takes a talented writer to turn a movie centring around technology and geekdom into something that could have happened in the 1500s, but the “Ministers of Grace” team are up to the challenge. Sometimes the twists of “Ghostbusters”, paired with the complex language and plenty of action on stage made the plot a bit long-winded and hard to follow but, with a few simple edits, this script would be hard to beat.

The ensemble were skilful, mastering Shakespearean language, complicated prop requirements and comic timing in one fell swoop. Using four small screens and a few well-placed puppets, the actors create a wide variety of things that go bump in the night, one comically-large children’s snack mascot and a number of special effects that, while they can’t quite match the realism of cinema, are impressive in their own right for their ingenuity and flare.

“Ministers of Grace” is a parody unlike any I’ve seen before; we have modern adaptations of Shakespearean plays coming out of our ears, so why had nobody ever thought of reversing that trope before now? “Ghostbusters” fans will certainly get a kick out of this quirky adaptation and, if anyone needs me, I’ll be patiently waiting for a Shakespearean adaptation of “Mean Girls”.

Rating: 4 stars (out of 5)