Synopsis: When a couple crashes their car in the mountains, they seek shelter in an isolated cabin. Its inhabitants, though somewhat unusual, are eager to make their guests feel right at home. But as the blizzard outside rages on and one night turns into several, the couple becomes less and less sure of what's true—about their hosts, themselves, and why that sound in the walls keeps getting louder.
A once-in-a-lifetime storm and car accident lead Max and Henry to a house in the woods seeking shelter from the storm and help with Henry’s broken ankle. What they find when they enter is not everything is entirely what it appears to be. Grey House is Broadway’s newest play taking a jab at the horror genre that almost demands its audience go into it blind to experience it entirely.
Written by Levi Holloway, Grey House explores the harsh reality of the brutality of misogyny on children and the effect that it has on the outlying world. Due to the limitation (or rather strength in this case) of practical effects, Grey House doesn’t rely on the jump scare, rather it focuses on its usage of atmospheric horror to convey the genre and propel the story. Holloway’s narrative that unfolds in front of us is beautiful, powerful, and haunting to the point of tears from some of the audience around me at its completion. You may not know where you’re going at the start, but Holloway does his very best to stick to the landing.
The cast directed by Joe Mantello weaves the world around them to great success. Much of the action follows Max (portrayed by Tatiana Maslany) and Henry (portrayed by Paul Sparks) and their interaction with the 5 children in the house. However, that does not stop Laurie Metcalfe’s Raleigh from unintentionally pulling focus the second she steps on stage due to the emotional arc the character is engaging with. In many instances with an ensemble cast, it feels like the stage is a battleground for someone to come out on top as the lead, but with Joe Mantello’s guidance, the cast works in harmony with the story, difficult feet when working professionally with children. It makes the ending all the more satisfying upon conclusion.
The true star of the show however is the “Grey House.” As this is a horror play, the house very much does give off the presence of the uncredited character. The ability to successfully do this is from Scott Pask’s brilliant design work. The usage of the set by the cast was also handled to great effect. Many times when a set this massive is created it leads to too much time spent changing the set around as opposed to enjoying the show, however, this wasn’t the case. Aided by lighting design by Natasha Katz, and sound design by Tom Gibbons, the story never felt like it came to a screeching halt.
Where I think Grey House does stumble slightly is about the story’s confusing elements. At times the script felt thin or too vague to create a conversation from the audience afterwards about what transpired. I will say this is a show I’d recommend seeing twice to help with comprehension, something that is good for business, but not always possible for the average theatregoer looking to see and understand a show once as the price of tickets rises. The best advice I can give for those looking to see it is to enter with the understanding that it will all be revealed to you and to enjoy the ride. Save the analysis for afterwards rather than in the show as living in the moment while watching will help get to the finish line with the most information you can have.
Overall, Grey House is a powerful jump into bringing more horror to the stage. Grey House works. It’s scary, it’s got a message, it’s unique, but most importantly it’s campy and fun. This show hopefully can propel more horror to be brought to the stage.
Grey House earns 4.5 out of 5 stars.
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