The play “Gray Home,” which opened this week at the Lyceum Theatre, makes an attempt to be a brand new horror film on an previous Broadway.
Such a merger sounds sensible in principle, with the style doing reliably massive enterprise at cinemas and boasting hoards of ready-made followers. Why not produce “M3GAN Stay,” or “The Nun” in two acts?
Effectively, for one easy cause: as a result of the sort of paralyzing concern and ugly demise that fuels horror movies is nearly inconceivable to satisfyingly replicate on the theater.
1 hour and 40 minutes with no intermission. On the Lyceum Theatre. 149 West forty fifth Road.
Many scenes in Levi Holloway’s play — which isn’t primarily based on anyone movie — are creepy or camp, however hardly terrifying.
At a haunted home, not less than, performers get in your face and typically freakily contact you.
Nevertheless, director Joe Mantello’s manufacturing of “Gray Home” solely provides just a few audio-based jump-scares and a vaguely spooky ambiance. The strain is swallowed entire even by a home as intimate because the Lyceum, and shudders from the viewers are uncommon.
As soon as we’ve turn out to be accustomed to the occasional burst of sudden noise, the play settles for being merely unsettling.
“Gray Home” is watered-down Blumhouse (“Get Out”) with shades of “The Shining.” Max (understudy Claire Karpen was on, however the position is normally performed by Tatiana Maslany) and Henry (Paul Sparks), a married couple, get right into a automobile accident within the mountains throughout a blizzard, and search refuge in a cabin occupied by 5 creepy children.
These Kids of the Chilly — led by Marlow (a mannered Sophia Anne Caruso) — converse in riddles, signal language and overwrought faux-etry, and sing slick nursery rhyme songs which have the polish of “Matilda the Musical.”
With annoying names, equivalent to Squirrel (Colby Kipnes), A1656 (Alyssa Emily Marvin), Bernie (Millicent Simmonds) and The Boy (Eamon Patrick O’Connell), they’re alleged to be mysteriously precocious, however as written they’re pure fakery.
One brash grownup, Raleigh (Laurie Metcalf), cares for the kids, and we assume she should be their mom. The venerable stage and TV star is entertaining as ever, however in fact a plaid-clad backwoods weirdo is hardly a stretch for her.
Trapped by the storm, Max and Henry make themselves at dwelling and are oddly unfazed by the various disturbing sights they witness. The home has a supernatural thoughts of its personal, and I suppose its magical pull is why they by no means attempt to run away. I’d flip cast-iron skillets into snowshoes earlier than spending the night time with these little monsters.
Sadly, the play plateaus early and has no gripping construct, with no riveting performances to talk of.
Some photographs, equivalent to illuminated jars crammed with liquid and a internet of blood-red sinew, are putting, although. A doll sits on the foot of the stage and stares at us your entire present, giving a terrific inanimate flip. Certainly, what comes off finest is Scott Pask’s woodsy set of hidden secrets and techniques.
The self-serious script by Holloway, then again, is a multitude of compelled moods, half-baked concepts and horror tropes. The play tries to guard itself from accusations of cliché by having Henry acknowledge from the offset that “I’ve seen this film earlier than,” “Scream”-style.
However the issue is just not that we’re reminded of Stephen King or Jordan Peele — it’s that the execution right here is way worse, the second half is a slog and no person is aware of what the hell is occurring.
Welcome to the Home of 1,000 Snoozes.