Adapted from a short story published in February 1924 by brilliant horror writer H.P. Lovecraft, this production is very Gothic. It would be easy to picture Vincent Price stumbling into the dimly lit study with torn garments and hollow eyes as he clutches a pistol, defying mortality.
“Bodine does a nice job of portraying a man who realizes too late where his obsession has led him . . .”
This was an amusing period piece that remained very faithful to the original short story (and it is quite short). Greg Oliver Bodine portrays Reed Farnsworth, our protagonist and a disgraced archeologist, leaving his final words indelibly on a Magnetophon K1 Tape Recorder (it merits special mention in the program) for his one-time mentor to find.
Farnsworth’s like-minded companion, St. John (they are both immersed in the occult and certain practices of erotica) have become enamored with grave robbing, and in robbing a certain grave in the Netherlands, they stumble upon an ancient horror that proves fatal to all who come into possession of a certain amulet. The story almost reads like an homage to Poe, but is renowned for being the first to name one of Lovecraft’s most famous literary devices, the “Necronomicon.”
At the start of the story, Farnsworth comes bursting into his study, pale with a sheen of sweat on his face, and the back of his overcoat and suit slashed by claws (that was a really effective touch); St. John is dead and Farnsworth is being hunted by a creature so foul and fearsome he can’t describe it. The next 45 minutes were taken by his frenzied recitation of the score. Bodine does nice job of portraying a man who realizes too late where his obsession has led him; one moment in particular stands out—when he positively glows when describing the joys of grave robbing. It’s repulsive and fascinating at the same time.
The atmospherics of the story would have been helped by gloomier lighting; but part of the issue may well have been the room the show is presented in. For this sort of work, that requires room to pace, windows that rattle in their sashes, light that flickers and shadows that quiver, the stage was lit too uniformly to add any ambience.
Original music for the piece was composed by Graham Plowman, whose works are inspired by the Cthulhu Mythos of Lovecraft and others; Piper Phillips designed the lighting; Jason McKittrick handled the property design; and Delisa M. White is the director/lead sounder designer. Derek Hills made a guest appearance as American author, antiquarian and paranormal expert Randolph Carter toward the end of the piece.
Show Advisory: Gunshot.
Running Time: 50 minutes with no intermission.
Show Information: ‘H.P. Lovecraft’s The House’ will be presented on July 16, 17, 21 and 25, at Spider — Saint Augustine’s Episcopal Church, Washington, DC. For more information, please click here.