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The Haunting of Reverend Hornsmith

Review by Jonathan Stewart

A dark and stormy night...a car carrying three young adults breaks down in the woods...they take shelter in a spooky abandoned cabin...the set up for many a horror movie and for the slapstick comedy of The Haunting of Reverend Hornsmith. It's horror movie loving Paula's (Carly Martin) birthday and she and her two friends Jasmine (Lisa Carmody) and Robert (Darcy Gorman) were driving to the birthday celebrations before before mentioned car break down and discovery of the cabin. Hippy dippy Jasmine can sense evil forces in the cabin and strange happenings start occurring. Is the cabin haunted? We soon meet David (Josh Weale) a friend of the three who is arranging the haunting of the cabin with Robert in a plot to give Paula a scary birthday thrill. But even David and Robert start seeing things that shouldn't be happening and hearing mysterious chain rattlings and ghostly voices.

The play is another example of the fun and manic comedy that the Victoria Playhouse is known for. It's the second play by Island director/actress/playwright Pam Stevenson and it is a credit to her growing body of work. Piano accompaniment for the evening is provided by Perry Neatby and the play is directed by Marlane O'Brien.

The cast give energetic and talented performances. Carly Martin is sharp in depiction of acid tongued Paula, Darcy Gorman is humorous as scheming Robert, Josh Weale shines as David and Lisa Carmody's portrayal of the out-of-it Jasmine is great. Ron Quenel's set is detailed and spooky in a fun way and the lighting, by James Clement and Jonathan Smith, is mood enhancing. The play gains quite a bit by the piano accompaniment of Perry Neatby.

Faults of The Haunting include too much arguing between the characters; they rarely speak to each other except to wildly disagree for many minutes. Also, the physical comedy does not reach interesting heights till near the end when David and Jasmine are possessed by spirits. Many of the jokes work, but a number don't-the audience sees the set up too quickly. However, these weaknesses are obscured by the sheer energy of the actors and the unapologetic fun of the script. Victoria Playhouse offers another enjoyable summer night.

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