Call Theatre recreates The Haunting of Hill House throughSeptember 28th while Healdsburg’s Raven Players present the serial-killingcomedy Arsenic and Old Lace through September 29th.
Shirley Jackson’s 1958 novel TheHaunting of Hill House is considered by many (including Steven King) to beone of the finest horror novels ever written. Adapted for film twice (andcurrently a Netflix series), F. Andrew Leslie adapted it for the stage in 1964and its that version that is being presented.
Curtain Call’s previous genreproduction (Dracula) was undone by a leaden script. This time, it’suneven performances that are problematic. Casting is often a challenge forsmaller community theatres and this West County troupe is no exception. Wherethey excel is with scenic design. They somehow manage to get really interestingsets onto their tiny hall stage and can also be counted on to have someeffective technical elements. Here, they do a good job in creating anatmosphere of fear and suspense through lighting, sound and special effects.
It’s an earnest production good forat least a shiver or two.
‘The Haunting ofHill House’ runs through September 28th at the Russian River Hall inMonte Rio. The Friday and Saturday evening performances are at 8pm.
For moreinformation, go to curtaincallrussianriver.com.
Arsenic and Old Lace, Joseph Kesselring’s tale of the Brewster sisters and theirproclivity for poisoning lonely, old gentlemen, has been an audience pleaserfor over 75 years. The popular 1944 film adaptation directed by Frank Capra andstarring Cary Grant as nephew Mortimer Brewster contains what most filmaficionados (and Grant himself) consider the debonair star’s worst performance.
Unfortunately, it’s that performanceon which Michael Hunter appears to have based his interpretation of the role. Theeye-popping, face mugging approach to the character didn’t work on film, and itdoesn’t work on stage.
Other performances in this JoeGellura-directed production do work, including Rebecca Allington and PriscillaLocke as Abby and Martha Brewster, Sophia Ferar as Mortimer’sgirlfriend/fiancé, and Eric Yanez as a play-writing cop on the beat. SteveCannon is actually a touch Karloff-ian as murderous brother Jonathan Brewster(Boris Karloff originated the role on Braodway) and the reliable Robert Baueris amusing as Jonathan’s sidekick Dr. Einstein. Michael Romero is a bit youngas Teddy, but his appearances bring much-needed energy to the proceedings.
With dated references and its raison d’être (Karloff) longgone, Arsenic is starting to feel old.
‘Arsenic and Old Lace’ runs Friday through Sun through September29 at the Raven Performing Arts Theater in Healdsburg. Friday and Saturdayevening performances are at 8pm; the Sunday matinee is at 2pm.
For more information, go to raventheater.org.