Writer: Robert Scott
Adapter: Sab Muthusamy
Director: Mark Holland and Gabi Castro
The foggy autumnal night in November was paired well with the suspense and thrill of Hope Street Theatre’s latest offering. Presenting an intriguing yet powerful narrative, The House Amongst the Willows kept the audience guessing what would happen next.
The interior of the psychological thriller was set to be in the holiday home of Fletcher’s ex-in-laws. Following the mysterious death of his wife Laura many years ago, Fletcher now finds himself introducing his new fiancee to Laura’s parents. The mystery ensues as his fiancee, Sadie receives a threatening letter from none other than Laura.
As it is bad luck to say “good luck” on opening night, “good luck” must have been said as technical difficulties with lighting persisted throughout the performance. Often leaving the cast in darkness while the odd portions of the stage were well-lit. Nonetheless, the story was not lost on its audience and the immensely talented cast pushed through with professionalism.
The production was staged perfectly, creating cohesive spaces and rooms through stage direction and lighting. The quaintness of the Hope Street Theatre can be seen as a challenge for staging, yet this production proved that challenges can be met with triumph. With clever stage movements and lighting, the spaces were easily read by the audience and brought a new dimension to the play.
The talented cast brought life and realism to the adaptation. Sab Muthasamy as Fletcher honed in on the development of the character’s psychological state sublimely, as his monologue in Act 2 had the audience hooked. The chemistry between Fletcher and Rafaela Dias’s Kelly stole the show with the nuanced relationship surrounded by mystery and fear.
If this was a horror, Josie Harrison would play the role of ‘final girl’ perfectly. As Sadie, Harrison’s progression from subtle meekness and naivety grew to be strong, but with a layer of trauma, which is presented in the unexpected ending
Paul and Erin (John Michael Rook and Sarah Howes Dixon) provide moments of comedy relief throughout the narrative but also fuel the suspense of the surrounding characters. The character of Josh (David Williamson) provided the comfort of each character with subtle accents of scouse wit.
Overall, The House Amongst the Willows presents themes such as mental and physical abuse with integrity and respect. As the sensitive themes may be distressing for some, the overall execution of them was handled with care.
The production is destined for great things. This adaptation was sublimely cast as each character was well thought of, developed and executed perfectly. The revelations of mysteries and answering of questions though out her performance was done with ease and clarity that has to be admired- and not spoiled by this reviewer.
Although the issues caused by lighting were distracting at moments, this is to be excused due to the talent on stage. Do not be deterred by this review due to unforeseen circumstances. Instead, accept this challenge to watch and see if you can predict the ending because this reviewer failed to do so.
Runs until 30th November 2022