Review: This Old House

Grace Fitzgerald’s play brings its audience through a deep, dark world of life in a rural Alberta home. 

By Aubrianna Snow: BTR Writer and Not a Scaredy Cat

This cerebral production begins in complete darkness and pops back to this void throughout – fitting for a story that explores some noir topics in some truly dark ways. Featuring the emotion-filled voices of narrating characters Manda Richter and her brother, Pete, the story dives deep into the history of the Richter family and the house where they live. 

The plot is filled with haunting visuals and beautiful language that transport audience members to the play’s gloomy universe – Manda describes a scene resonant of Hitchcock when a flock of birds sacrifices themselves by flying into a window to give a warning of coming disaster in the early part of the play, leaving the audience with lingering shivers.

There are so many things about this production that are mind-bendingly creative and will stay with the viewer long after the tale is over. The set and props are used in innovative ways to facilitate the story and to amplify the often frightening and gruesome subplots. One scene depicts the murder of a girl by her jealous twin sister, looked down upon by a creepy moon-like figure representing their parents. 

A particularly ingenious example of the production’s aesthetically pleasing use of set and props is the employment of a vertical bed with a hanging sheet, giving an intimate view of what’s happening when characters are laying down. This provides the audience with the sense of being in bed with the characters, hearing their private conversations and feeling their emotions as the horror unfolds. 

Manda and Pete’s narration creates such a strong mental picture for the audience that the action on stage only serves to take the production to the next level with its truly chilling visuals. All these elements come together to pull the viewer through the story of this “giant, disgusting, prison of a house.”


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