The Uninvited – My Impressions of Haunted House Theater

Hey everyone, how y’all been?

I haven’t posted in this blog since the Halloween season.  There must be someone out there who missed me. 

During my time away, I’ve read several haunted house books. I’ve even seen a haunted house movie or two. So I’ve got a backlog of things to write about. 

Being that it’s spring, I’ll begin fresh. What if I bring you a review that is not a movie or book? For instance, how about a play? Yes, this will do nicely. However, the play is based on a book. And a movie of it came out long before the play was written. ( Playwright Tim Kelley adapted it in  1979).  So in a way, there’s a connection to film and literature. 

So, a play it is! I’m sure I have everyone’s endorsement.  I will feel that buzz of approval radiating from my screen when I go back and read this after it’s published. Oh I know I will.

Anyways, sorry that I haven’t updated this blog since October. I didn’t mean to “Fall” away, but let me “Spring” forth with a long overdue update. 

So come on in.  I’m welcoming you. Don’t worry, you won’t be “Uninvited.”


So there I was on Facebook, scrolling up and down, and suddenly there was this ad.  I’m sure it was a targeted ad, since FB knows how much I love ghosts.  It looked something like this:


“Hmmm,”  I said to myself.  What did I do about this “hmmm?” I bought tickets to the play, that’s what I did.

For those that don’t know, College of DuPage is a community college just outside of Chicago. It was my first time on campus.  It is closer to where I work than where I live, so I went straight from work one Friday evening. I went all by myself, but hey, I got myself a seat right by the stage.

. Not since I took an Intro to Theater course at N.I.U. back in 1990 did I attend a college play that didn’t star a relative.  I’ve attended plays as a class requirement. I took in theater performances to support family members. In both cases, I enjoyed myself. But this was the first time I attended a play for the theater experience itself. The play’s story I knew from film and I was anxious to see how it translated to another platform: The theater.

The Uninvited is a ghost story written by Dorothy Macardal in 1941. I know very little, if anything about the book. I’ll have to change that. Most of what I do know is from this  article for the Dublin Inquirer. I was introduced to the story from the 1944 film of the same title, which is directed by Lewis Allen.  I saw the film twice, both times on Svengoolie!  I wrote about it here at this blog. Honestly, I thought it was an okay film with an okay kind of story. But I didn’t attend the play to reimmerse myself in the narrative. I attended to see how a stage can transform into a haunted house.

Being as close as I was, I felt as if I was part of the environment. I was in the haunted room itself!  

Look at this photo of the stage:


Behind those green curtains in the back of the photo is a fictional entrance to an outside walk that leads to the sea. There are shutters on either side, and it thrilled me to pieces when unknown forces caused them to open and close, open and close, bang bang bang! Often accompanied by a compelling audio of a strong seaside wind, these shutters were the highlight of the play! 

Continuing with the subject of compelling audio, I enjoyed the ghostly sound of a phantom woman crying from inside the nursery, which is inside the white door. It is open now and then throughout the play, but only half way. A light shines from inside. Then there is the music. Eerie melodies begin when a character recites lines foreshadowing ghostly events. They start off softly then gradually get louder.

So there’s an excellent use of the scenery. There’s absorbing audio. Then, there’s a nice working of shadow and light. Was it my imagination or did a shadow traipse across the stage from left to right? Or was it an atmospheric  beam of light? By George, I think it was both!  The spotlight captured the woman in the portrait from time to time while the rest of the stage darkened. She may or may not be the ghost in this story.

So, that’s that! Great review or what?

Oh, was I supposed to say something about the story? As long as I’m questioning myself, what about the actors and their performances? 

As far as the performances are concerned – they were, ya know, good. Mostly impressive. Sometimes overacted. Great job with accents. What else can I say, after all I was there for the stage atmosphere and haunted house happenings! 

As I hinted earlier, the story is so-so. I’ll just state the obvious. There is a ghost in the house. The homeowners and guests want to get rid of it. That about sums it up.

The play, as well as the film, suffers from using too much backstory to explain the plot. This is not the fault of the play’s director or the actors. In a meet-and-greet after the show, Director Amelia Barrett postulates that this play may be harder for modern audiences to take in due to all the back and forth dialogue. For me, if it was natural flowing dialogue that brings the story to new heights I would have no problem. It’s just that the mystery and the solving of said mystery is all worked out through conversations concerning several characters that are only mentioned and never seen (Cause they’re all dead.)  Admittedly, this is quite boring.

I’m making a stronger case for myself to read the book. I’m betting the plot unfolds at a more natural pace on the page. Hopefully I will read it.. Then I can do a book/film/play comparison. I hope this sounds exciting. I’m tickled with giddy-snorts thinking about it. Are you?