Haunted Haunts 59E59
Bizarre love triangle is an understatement.
Edna OBriens subject in Haunted: quaint, sherry-tippling English matrimonial misery. Mr. Berry (Niall Buggy) is a randy old codger with itchy feet and a tendency to wax nostalgic. Mrs. Berry (Brenda Blethyn), a long-suffering harridan, toils thanklessly in a doll factory. If you somehow miss the significance of this occupation to the childless couple, director Braham Murray helpfully places a spotlit poppet upstage.
Enter Hazel (Beth Cooke), a pert waif with immaculate ingenue credentials (impoverished, do-gooder, asexual). Shes heard that Mrs. Berry is selling vintage clothes. Mr. Berry, beguiled, gives her a fancy sweater of his wifesthe first of many surreptitious presents. Soon, the mismatched couple is hanging out on the DL, disastrously depleting Mrs. Bs wardrobe.
If this sounds like fusty farce, it is, mostly, complete with subterfuge and door slamming. But the bipolar play also has high-tragic aspirations. OBriens characters compulsively quote Shakespeare (among other canonical gents) as if suffering from some rarefied version of Tourettes. Like a drunk at a church bazaar, Haunteds tone careens wildly from Masterpiece Theatre stuffiness to knockabout antics.
To wrap up, we get wailing, screams, a cancer deatheven a mad scene (poor Hazel pulls an Ophelia). Was it love or punishment, Mr. Berry muses, contemplating his capsized marriage. For us, its certainly the latter.
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