Photo by Don Kellogg

Wednesday, December 8, 2010


If my memory serves me correctly, I believe I heard that Edna O'Brien originally wrote Haunted in a series of tele-plays.  She later asked Brenda Blethyn to read it - and hence we are finally seeing this version of the touching story of an older married couple growing apart in their later years, distracted and turned upside down by the appearance of a younger woman performed on the live stage in the Brits off Broadway 2010 season.

Tony nominated Brenda Blethyn and Niall Buggy take the helm as Mr. and Mrs. Berry.  Mr. Berry is enamored with the appearance of a strange young woman, Hazel, (Beth Cooke) at his door.  While his wife is out to work each day, the retired Mr. Berry finds himself diving deeper and deeper into his fantasy of a happier life with this woman.   So strong is his fantasy, that he tells her his wife is dead and begins to give her gifts of her clothing and belongings in exchange for her providing elocution lessons.  Things spiral helplessly out of control until finally Mrs. Berry returns home to catch the two in a dramatic, well acted, penultimate scene of the play.

Mrs. Blethyn is superb in her portrayal of the quirky, coy, yet biting and witty Mrs. Berry and virtually steals the show with her meaty performances.  O'Brien's work could certainly use some trimming to eliminate the drawn out, repetitive (read boring) nature of some of the dialogue and scenes.  I thought the addition of the rather (comparatively) high-tech video projections between the scenes provided a much needed emotional and mental picture of the subconscious and ominous emotions that O'Brien was intending to convey.

Do the British prattle on too much?  Of course.  This play is no exception, but top notch acting saves the day.  I wish I could say the same for Mr. and Mrs. Berry.