Things at the Doorstep Does Not Go Bump in the Night

H.P. Lovecraft inspires a production at Manhattan Theatre Source

Director DeLisa M. White’s Things at the Doorstep, at Manhattan Theatre Source, describes itself as “an evening of horror.” I would not disagree.

A pair of one-acts based on the writings of creep-out-master H.P. Lovecraft, Things at the Doorstep begins—innocently enough—with a passable version of The Hound (1922), adapted and gamely enacted by Greg Oliver Bodine. British accent and all, Bodine performs Lovecraft’s empurpled short story (about graverobbing gone wrong) as a straightforward, straight-faced monologue that would be at home on PBS.

Caveat lector: Spoilers follow.

Enter with caution
Manhattan Theatre Source
Enter with caution

Details

Things at the Doorstep
Based on H.P. Lovecraft
Manhattan Theatre Source
177 MacDougal Street
866-811-4111, theatersource.org

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The second one-act—I Am Providence—was held up by an apparent technical failure. The playwright, Nat Cassidy, took the stage and chatted to the audience while we waited. Sipping a Bud Light Lime, Cassidy mused on his risible adventures in the world of Rhode Island regional theater and his zeal for all things Lovecraft. Some people left. Some waited.

Nearly an hour later, when Cassidy started using his Dramatic Face and Stentorian Tones, it became apparent that this impromptu stalling was the show. Some sort of tricking-the-audience conceit with no discernible purpose. I cannot express how supremely annoying this was, except to say that Cassidy—obviously a talented performer and writer, this work excepted—concluded by asking us not to get angry. My notes read: “Oh God why. WHY.”

 
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2 comments
DeLisa White
DeLisa White

Thank you Samia Mounts. No disrespect to Ms. McCann either, but you were clearly much more the audience I AM PROVIDENCE was intended for and I'm glad you "got it". Thank you for coming and for commenting!

Samia Mounts
Samia Mounts

No disrespect to Ms. McCann, but I really think she missed the boat with this review - if you can even call it that. I saw Things at the Doorstep last week, and while I agree with McCann's summation of Bodine's adaptation of "The Hound," I was absolutely blown away by Cassidy's "I Am Providence." The technical problems fake-out allowed Cassidy to break down the barrier between performer and audience so completely that the first half of the show seemed more like a conversation we were having with him, one in which we could participate. By the time we got to the point when I realized that this was indeed the show, I was so completely invested in it that all I could do afterward was marvel at the genius of the idea - and the chutzpah it took to take such a risk in the first place. The "tricking-the-audience conceit" served the brilliant purpose of getting people to listen to the story of the play as PEOPLE - and not as jaded New York audience members. It created an intimacy I've never experienced in even the smallest of black-box theaters, and I consider this show to be one of the coolest, most innovative theatre experiences of my life thus far.

 
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