They’re creepy and they’re kooky, The Whateley Family. Cerebral city folk led by John Ansari’s Professor Armitage are a cut above the inbred, degenerates of backwater village Dunwich. No offence Curtis.
Director Daniel J Wild has tinkered with H.P. Lovecraft’s short story and produced the perfect Halloween tale of good versus evil.
There is an oscillation of tone throughout the play.
There is plenty of tongue in cheek, witty dialogue, delivered with expert timing by the able cast. This is countered with an ominous and creepy atmosphere, achieved with gothic makeup and set, insane laughter, sound effects of an invisible malevolent beast and gloomy lighting.
From the moment Wizard Whately recites a spooky spell upon yonder hill, Wilbur Whately seems precocious beyond human possibility. Phil Lloyd puts in a quietly, menacing performance as Wilbur, unsettling everyone he comes across, even his own mother, Lucy Alice Jepson.
An unseen monster is being fed at the Whately residence but it’s a bit more scary than Seymour’s singing plant.
The pace is fast, and the action packed final scene featuring John Ansari’s evil monster antidote spell, not forgetting Neil Sullivan’s Oscar winning fainting, is worthy of an Indiana Jones movie.
The zippy script is full of comic gems. The house smells, there’s weird noises and people go missing there but apart from that there’s nothing odd. Monica Gallo’s amusing Professor Rice interprets a passage, “We’re all going to go insane and die” which loses a bit in translation.
I wonder what other adaptations Mr Wild has up his sleeve?