Presented by fledgling group Alternative Theatre Company, this play by F. Andrew Leslie is based on a horror story by Shirley Jackson, first published in 1959. It has been considered a work of unnerving terror, a story that inspired a Netflix TV series. In many ways, it is difficult to achieve the same level of tension in a theatre as it is for TV and the script reflects this.
Director Shannyn McKay-Lee has tried to keep the tension high but has not succeeded in all cases. The set is well constructed but failed to serve the purpose as the sight gaps remove any surprise entrances. The lighting works in most scenes but fails to aid the creepy/horror feel, while the sound effects are very realistic.
A mixture of experience in the cast means that at times the action is a little uneven. Luckily one of the main roles, Dr. Montague, is played by Brendan White who provides a strong focus and support for some of the younger players. His wife, Mrs. Montague, is portrayed by Jane Soutar who plays the self-centredness of the character well. Ivan Jankovic, is Luke Sanderson, who is the heir to Hill House and one of the observers, seemed to lack conviction. Both Saphron Giannos and Airlee Windle as Eleanor and Theadora, two of the observing company, do well but have a tendency to be difficult to understand. Saif Sandy was suitably serious as Arthur Parker, Mrs. Montague’s friend and director Shannyn McKay-Lee gave us a stern Mrs. Dudley, the hired help.
The ghosts were an important part of the script and were well embodied by Lina Sabatino (Eleanor’s mother), Olivia Reardon (Olivia Crain), Saffron Bradley (Abigail Crain), and Samuel Childs (Hugh Crain). The performance was well-received by the audience but did lack some polish, not surprising for a first effort.