Canterbury Theatre’s production of “The Haunting of Hill House’ will definitely keep you up in your bed all night.
The theatre’s final production of the summer gives audiences a chilling end to the wonderful season. The play is set in the notorious Hill House over the course of a week. Dr. Montague (Jaren Stringer) has decided to investigate some supposedly supernatural happenings going on inside the house. To help him, he recruits three other people with particular traits about them: Theodora (Annie Barker), who is a renowned psychic; Luke Sanderson (Sam Copeland), a relative of the deceased owners of the house; and Eleanor Vance (Tova Volcheck), who in her youth had a strange supernatural incident happen to her. The group is also being waited on by the mysterious Mrs. Dudley (Amber Simmons) who cryptically keeps them on their toes through her blunt conversations and strange rituals.
Over the course of the week, strange occurrences begin to happen in the house, growing stronger and stronger as the nights pass. After recruiting Mrs. Montague (Lauren Holland) and Arthur Parker (Connor Snow), Dr. Montague’s crew begins to experience more hellish events, all the while Eleanor begins to break psychologically as time passes.
Tova Velcheck creates an interesting Eleanor Vance. Her character’s neurotic nature and haunted (no pun intended) past shines very brightly through her performance. I nearly jumped out of my chair every time she had a breakdown. Annie Barker’s Theodora makes me laugh when I need to. When things seem to be too tense, her proud nature gives me a smile to help me relieve some of my own nervousness. Sam Copeland’s Luke Sanderson is similar as his playboy style of uncaring helps me scoff when events can’t be unexplained. Dr. and Mrs. Montague are wonderful, playing the characters with the right amount of pompousness that a person of an Ivy League-esque education would have. Connor Snow’s Arthur Parker, though he doesn’t have the gruff voice, shows off the manliness that a boy's’ school headmaster would be ashamed not to have. Finally, Amber Simmons’ Mrs. Dudley had my teeth chattering whenever she appeared, with her stone face and slow movements. I was very terrified when, during the 10-minute intermissions, she did her housemaid’s duties without a sound. It was as though she wasn’t there, until she slammed the door to make her exit.
The set was, at first, quite confusing. I wasn’t sure how the layout was going to work, with four doors, a sitting area, and then a bed in the far right. However, once the play got started I began to realize what it was for and I was quite impressed. The sound effects, the music and the lighting were all wonderfully coordinated. Props to David White, Keith Bruce and Ray Scott Crawford for such a frightful coordination. The costumes also greatly fit the characters, each fitting the type of character personality they had. Dr. Montague’s costume, for example, had the posh and refined man of education while Luke Sanderson’s costume reflects his apathy. Overall, this show was one of the most unforgettable. I surely won’t forget this one were it not for the feeling that I was being watched.
Although the shows have ended, be sure to catch future productions coming to Canterbury Theatre. If this show was anything to behold, be on the lookout for great plays to come. You surely won’t leave unimpressed.
— Review by Donavan Barrier