Fools Rush In

Clowning through Gogol at Jeune Lune; blustering through horror at the Fitzgerald

Cranney in particular must work overtime, as the play relies on his character to portray a dozen uniquely decrepit old men. This he does by casually flinging on new overcoats, all hanging from hooks at one end of the stage. He scowls, growls, and sneezes as he warns of sinister goings-on near the bogs, and his thick accent and gaunt features create the atmosphere of the play more effectively than the frequent, cleverly used sound and lighting cues.

Not enough heaving bodices: Jon Cranney and Jim Lichtscheidl in The Woman in Black
Not enough heaving bodices: Jon Cranney and Jim Lichtscheidl in The Woman in Black

Unfortunately, these tinny, prerecorded screams and flashing lights can only create so much fear in an audience, and the play never loosens its starched collar enough to engage in any real savagery. Rather than the "mortal dread and terror of spirit" Lichtscheidl promises in one of his laborious monologues, we are given creaking rocking chairs and faces lit by flashlights. The play contains all the features of a horror story except dread, and the results feel very much as though a telescript from Dark Shadows has been staged at the Fitzgerald.

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