6th November 2023
The House Amongst the Willows is a psychological thriller, written by Robert Scott. I saw 4AM’s production at the Hope Street Theatre, on 29th November. Being a cold, foggy autumnal night, the scene was set for a thriller. I didn’t know what to expect but “murder, madness and betrayal” were definitely delivered.
The House Amongst the Willows takes place in the holiday home of the lead character’s previous in-laws. After his wife had died years earlier, Fletcher has taken his new fiancee to meet her parents. Directed by Mark Holland and Gabi Castro, this production was enigmatic, stigma breaking and also a little comedic – because we all need a bit of comic relief. When touching on sensitive themes, such as mental health, grief and also emotional and physical abuse, the production handled them carefully and respectfully.
Leaving you right on the edge, wanting more in the best way, it was reminiscent of The Woman in Black. This use of the gothic genre was an interesting feature, considering the setting of the present. The psychological elements really played on the mind and kept us guessing throughout the performance – even making us second guess ourselves.
There were some really compelling performances throughout this production! A special mention goes to Rafaela Dias who portrayed Kelly; she really channelled the enigma and created such a disturbing atmosphere (I am ashamed to say she made me jump). Protagonist Fletcher, played by Sab Muthusamy, who also produced the show, really took on the challenging portrayal of mental health.
The venue was very intimate, creating a visceral atmosphere where you were really able to live vicariously through the characters. The set was minimal, yet immensely effective. With a living room on stage right and a dining room on stage left, it allowed for scenes with multiple dialogues occurring between different people. This was emphasised by the lighting, which despite seemingly suffering from technical difficulties, alluded to the mystery. Throughout the show and particularly towards the end when a record player is used, the lighting created a tense and almost ethereal atmosphere.
Overall, I think this was a very challenging production with a lot of difficult themes to address. However, the cast and crew managed to portray these sufficiently. An interesting production, with a talented cast and I look forward to seeing where they go in the future.
Cover image by Gabi Castro, used with permission from 4AM.