Jun 01

Mockingbird Close offers twists of horror

by Jenna Shummoogum · 0 comments

Mockingbird Close is the name of the neighbourhood that Hank (Braden Griffiths) and Iris (Julie Orton) live and bring up their son. They are a middle-income couple that owns a suburban house in a safe neighbourhood. Hank mows the lawn on weekends and Iris makes dinner and makes sure to greet her husband when he comes home from a long day’s work.

The play opens to Hank and Iris, speaking in turn about their son. Iris speaks about spending the days with him, with the rain drizzling outside and them doing activities together. Which mostly consisted of her hoping he would stay preoccupied long enough for her to have a drink or smoke a cigarette. As they begin to explore what life was with their son, the audience become very aware that something is amiss.  From Hank talking about how little kids cry all the time and all you just want to shake them, to Iris talking about pressing the start button on the drier when her little boy is in it. The darkness within the shadows is slowly revealed, illustrating that all is not perfect is their safe neighbourhood of Mockingbird Close.

The plot begins to speed up as the couple realize that they’ve lost their son, going through the different scenarios in vivid details of where he could possibly be. They begin to canvass the neighbourhood, going from house to house, each one revealing a new interesting character. Along the way we meet a desperately lonely housewife, a creepy man with things to hide in his basement and a decaying corpse in the bedroom and an awkward young man who likes to dress up in his mother’s jewelry. These scenes are also inter spliced with scenes from the famous story of Hansel and Gretel, with a bit of a twist of horror.

Deitra Kalyn’s costume design has Iris in a green dress with pearls and a headband and Hank in a brown suit with a green sweater vest, setting the play in the time period of the 60s. The simple choice of having white fences hang over the stage give the play an eery effect. David Smith’s lighting design also adds to the edge of horror, flooding the stage with red light when they arrive at the witch’s house at Mockingbird Close.

Griffiths and Orton are delightful in this play, playing their characters with subtlety and switching between characters nicely. Orton in particular does a really good job playing the drunken lonely housewife. Griffith is comical as the boy dressing up in his mother’s clothing.

Mockingbird Close starts off as an interesting examination of the couple behind the white picket fence that is doing what they feel they should be and is pressed down by the expectations on them. It is well written, full of poetic language and character depth. But the momentum it has at the beginning drops off towards the end. It seems like the playwright, Trevor Schmidt, had a great idea but didn’t develop it to its fullest. It leaves the viewer feeling unfulfilled and unsatisfied. The play has many elements that make it great, but in the end didn’t follow through.

Mockingbird Close runs at Lunchbox Theatre as part of their 2012 RBC Emerging Director Program. The play runs until June 2nd. Tickets are available online.

Photo Credit: Benjamin Laird Photography

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