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He Says: The Thin Place is Heavy with Paranormal Dread

He Says: The Thin Place is Heavy with Paranormal Dread

A compelling tight-voiced woman leads us down the pathway to The Thin Place at Playwrights Horizons, with a whole-hearted belief that simple story-telling expertly done and laid out works paranormal wonders. Amazingly, this couldn’t be more on point, as we eagerly tune into the woman quietly sitting in an arm chair using her odd ghost story skills to pull us in with an ease that is exhilarating. Hilda, dynamically portrayed by an impressive Emily Cass McDonnell (Signature’s The Antipodes) utilizes all that is unique and subtle to weave a story that is both dynamic and intriguing. Teasing the drama forward spectacularly, the scare tactics work, mainly because of the deep emotional connection that tugs within, while also scratching at us with tense chills and dread. Playwright Lucas Hnath, the superb writer of Hillary and ClintonRed SpeedoA Doll’s House, Part 2, deviously lays down the flavorful bread crumbs to lure us deep into the dark and scary forest of Hilde’s past relationships. They compel us forward, inch by inch, crumb by crumb, into an electric place somewhere between this world and the other, keeping us on our toes and completely engrossed from start to finish.

The Thin PlaceNovember 22, 2019 – January 05, 2020
Peter Jay Sharp Theater
Written by Lucas Hnath
Directed by Les Waters
Randy Danson, Emily Cass McDonnell. Photo by Joan Marcus.

All you have to do is listen“, “really listen“, she pleads, and we must confess that there is no way we cannot, mainly because of the dark intensity that Hnath has procured with each step. It’s a scary ghost story, with a deeply complex listening creature in the forefront vibrating with an unknown energy that intrigues. One by one, she introduces us to those that she comes into contact in her desperate attempt to connect beyond the present and the living. Linda, fascinatingly portrayed by the clever Randy Danson (PH’s Arts and Leisure), is the first to open the door that leads to Hilda’s dearly departed grandmother. She’s the medium who thinks of herself as more of a trick psychotherapist, but one that can deliver immediate positive results.  She produces something akin to “dinner and a show“, but the details are too close to Hilde’s home to take it on as slightly as Linda suggests. Their dance and friendship is awkward and compelling. We don’t quite get it, but we also can see Hilde’s desperation leading the way, giving us ample reason to be confused but completely intrigued.

The Thin PlaceNovember 22, 2019 – January 05, 2020
Peter Jay Sharp Theater
Written by Lucas Hnath
Directed by Les Waters
Kelly McAndrew, Randy Danson, Triney Sandoval, Emily Cass McDonnell. Photo by Joan Marcus.

The two sit armchair beside armchair, weaving stories to and about themselves and the other on the most simple set designed with clarity and vision by Mimi Lien (Soho Rep./TFANA’s Fairview). The lighting by Mark Barton (LCT’s Admissions) casts us down into the spooky depths while also illuminating the present and the real with sharp clarity, alongside the smart costuming by Oana Botez (Riverside Church Theater’s Phoenician Women), and eerily jarring sound design by Christian Frederickson (PH’s This Flat Earth). The cast and crew trust in their ability to keep us leaning in and staying attuned, and boy, do we ever. Even when the two others; Jerry, portrayed by Triney Sandoval (Broadway’s Bernhardt/Hamlet) and elegant sugar mother Sylvia, beautifully presented by Kelly McAndrew (Rattlestick’s Novenas…), expand the horizon. They bring the questions, ideals, and moralities in and around Linda’s profession and debate the guilt of getting all you want at the expense of others, or giving it away to help if you can and so desire.

The drive through Hilde’s past stories and present day phone glitches lead us back home, via a spontaneous detour into the darkness of the past, taking us to the heart of the monster matter and the ghost-like apparition that awaits to be heard. We strain to know what’s happening, as we sit on the edge with tense fear marked with inquisitive eagerness. “That’s your warning“, they say about wanting to know more about those souls that have died, or just gone missing. The Thin Place is heavy and thick with connectivity to the other side, and in it, there is theatrical bliss and revelation.

The Thin PlaceNovember 22, 2019 – January 05, 2020
Peter Jay Sharp Theater
Written by Lucas Hnath
Directed by Les Waters
Kelly McAndrew, Randy Danson, Emily Cass McDonnell in Playwrights Horizons’ The Thin Place. Written by Lucas Hnath. Directed by Les Waters. Photo by Joan Marcus.

For more, go to frontmezzjunkies.com

Off Broadway
@#frontmezzjunkies

My love for theater started when I first got involved in high school plays and children's theatre in London, Ontario, which led me—much to my mother’s chagrin—to study set design, directing, and arts administration at York University in Toronto. But rather than pursuing theater as a career (I did produce and design a wee bit), I became a self-proclaimed theater junkie and life-long supporter. I am not a writer by trade, but I hope to share my views and feelings about this amazing experience we are so lucky to be able to see here in NYC, and in my many trips to London, Enlgand, Chicago, Toronto, Washington, and beyond. Living in London, England from 1985 to 1986, NYC since 1994, and on my numerous theatrical obsessive trips to England, I've seen as much theater as I can possibly afford. I love seeing plays. I love seeing musicals. If I had to choose between a song or a dance, I'd always pick the song. Dance—especially ballet—is pretty and all, but it doesn’t excite me as, say, Sondheim lyrics. But that being said, the dancing in West Side Story is incredible! As it seems you all love a good list, here's two. FAVORITE MUSICALS (in no particular order): Sweeney Todd with Patti Lupone and Michael Cerveris in 2005. By far, my most favorite theatrical experience to date. Sunday in the Park with George with Jenna Russell (who made me sob hysterically each and every one of the three times I saw that production in England and here in NYC) in 2008 Spring Awakening with Jonathan Groff and Lea Michele in 2007 Hedwig and the Angry Inch (both off-Boadway in 1998 and on Broadway in 2014, with Neal Patrick Harris, but also with Michael C. Hall and John Cameron Mitchell, my first Hedwig and my last...so far), Next To Normal with Alice Ripley (who I wish I had seen in Side Show) in 2009 FAVORITE PLAYS (that’s more difficult—there have been so many and they are all so different): Angels in American, both on Broadway and off Lettice and Lovage with Dame Maggie Smith and Margaret Tyzack in 1987 Who's Afraid of Virginai Woolf with Tracy Letts and Amy Morton in 2012 Almost everything by Alan Ayckbourn, but especially Woman in Mind with Julia McKenzie in 1986 And to round out the five, maybe Proof with Mary Louise Parker in 2000. But ask me on a different day, and I might give you a different list. These are only ten theatre moments that I will remember for years to come, until I don’t have a memory anymore. There are many more that I didn't or couldn't remember, and I hope a tremendous number more to come. Thanks for reading. And remember: read, like, share, retweet, enjoy. For more go to frontmezzjunkies.com

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