Review: 'The Haunting of Hill House' Delivers Some Thrills and Chills

by Joe Siegel

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Tuesday October 12, 2021

Caitlin Robert, Katherine Kimmel and Wylette Selvideo in "The Haunting of Hill House"
Caitlin Robert, Katherine Kimmel and Wylette Selvideo in "The Haunting of Hill House"  (Source:Granite Theatre)

Just in time for Halloween, "The Haunting of Hill House" promises audiences a no-holds-barred exploration of the supernatural.

Granite Theatre's production, based on the classic Shirley Jackson novel, will leave you with some chills and thrills.

The setting is a deserted house in the middle of nowhere. Miss Dudley (Katherine Kimmel), the stern housekeeper, warns young Eleanor and her friend Theodora about the danger.

"If you scream, no one will hear you," Dudley says without emotion.

The pompously eccentric Dr. Montaque (Ralph Stokes) is doing a study on the effects of psychic phenomena. He has recruited some volunteers for his research, and intends to write a book chronicling his findings. What no one knows is Eleanor has been tormented over the death of her mother.

Strange things begin to happen. The double doors to the parlor open and close by themselves. There are strange noises upstairs. A cryptic message appears on a wall.

Montaque reveals the various misfortunes that befell the house's previous inhabitants. It seems the house has the ability to control minds.

Wylette Selvideo is quite good as Eleanor, who is on the verge of a nervous breakdown after encountering the house's otherworldly occupants. Selvideo captures the vulnerability and terror of this woman.

Caitlin Robert ("The Ladies Man") brought a lot of vitality to the show as Theodora, who refuses to be intimidated by anyone, living or dead.

Another bright spot is Tristan Cole as Luke, one of Montaque's guests. Cole displays an offbeat type of charm in his line readings.

After a solid first act, which establishes the characters and the setting, "The Haunting of Hill House" gets sidetracked by the appearance of Montaque's wife (Irene Handren), together with her escort, Arthur (George Sanchez). Handren has a lot of dialogue, which she delivers with tremendous passion.

Unfortunately, the quarreling between the Montaques about whether the spirits in the house are benevolent or not is given too much time and attention. As a result, Eleanor's dilemma gets sidelined for far too much long and tedium follows.

Director John Cillino ("The Hollow") uses some clever staging to convince us of the evil lingering in this house. A nocturnal apparition in Eleanor's bedroom is an unsettling sight. The final moments are appropriately eerie.

Amelia Holton's atmospheric lighting and David Jepson's exquisite sets are effective at giving the show an overwhelming sense of dread.

A lot of effort has obviously gone into "The Haunting of Hill House," and this production reflects the dedication of the actors and technical crew in putting on a good show.


"The Haunting of Hill House" runs through October 31. Granite Theatre, 1 Granite St., Westerly, RI. For tickets, visit http://www.granitetheatre.com.

Joe Siegel has written for a number of other GLBT publications, including In newsweekly and Options.