Reviewed by Guy Picot
If you like late-night camp-horror-soap opera comedy but also like being home in bed by 10:30 p.m. then Ravenswood Manor at Celebration Theatre is just the ticket. An episodic play (I saw episodes One and Two), it features a stellar cast of broad comedy performers clearly enjoying themselves as the inhabitants of a New England town in 1976. The manor of the title is home to the Ravenswood family and has more than its share of secrets. The plot is convoluted – werewolves, drugs, corpses in the basement etc. – but ultimately unimportant as we enjoy the parade of eccentrics displaying their tics.
Writer Justin Sayre (who also plays Bettina Doors) knows his audience, the gags come thick and fast and often filthy. With much doubling and quick changes (Costumes by Judith Armas, wigs by Mandi Moss) the town starts to reveal itself.
Bettina is a movie star who hasn’t been home for twenty years, a botched facelift has curtailed her career and now she wears a veil on the bottom half of her face (although I think a beard is probably lurking there). We meet the other characters through her as she reacquaints herself with her family, friends and (mainly) enemies. Standouts for me in a very strong company were Angela Cristantello as two of the manor’s residents, and Drew Droege as a pharmacist’s wife with seven fingers (long story).
The nicely theatrical set (Craig Stephens) is the entrance hall of the manor, with projections signaling other locations. Sound (Christopher Moscatiello) and lighting design (Martha Carter) are suitably atmospheric.
The alleged ’70s period did not really add much to proceedings beyond costume design and the odd one-liner as the feel of the piece is pretty timeless.
Directors Tom De Trinis and Jessica Hanna keep the action fast and funny, there is a very nice title sequence at the top of the show when we see the principal players in tableaux as projections tell us who we’re looking at, this sets the tone perfectly.
Future episodes will have recaps on the story so first-timers can catch up. An episodic play is a bit of a commitment, not just just for the performers and artistic team but also the audience. I hope it gets the cult following it deserves.
Written by Justin Sayre
Directed by Tom DeTrinis and Jessica Hanna
Produced by Gina Torrecilla
Theme composed by Lizzie Hogstedt and Robby Sandler
Original Score composed by Henry Koperski
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