A pubescent girl spends a night having sex with a talking corpse and being pursued by a police officer dressed in a bear suit. Kevin Oakes’s The Vomit Talk of Ghosts may not operate on any conventional narrative level, but neither does the imagination of its teenage heroine, a mentally unstable nymph(omaniac) prone to oracular spoutings and paroxysms of knife-wielding delirium.
Oakes takes his cue from some of the more mysterious rites of female adolescence (hours spent locked in the bedroom, sapphic bonds with best friends, erotic attachments to stuffed animals), yet his drama is primarily an act of sustained voyeurism. A digital camera mercilessly stalks the protagonist (Katy Downing), relaying images of her bare feet, legs, and ass to a TV screen perched above the stage. But titillating this is not. The ghosts soon take over, aided by the heroine’s parents, who prove to be the biggest monsters of them all.
Aggressively nonsensical, the play eventually free-associates itself into a hole. Certain scenes possess the nightmarish intensity of a Caryl Churchill drama, and as the mother, Sayra Player assumes her wicked-witch duties with lip-smacking glee. But the grosser and wordier the play grows, the closer it comes to resembling the offensive spew of its title.