January 27, 2022
After losing his father in the war and his mother to a mental institution, 12-year-old Christopher (Wyatt Cirbus) relocates to the coast of Maine where his curmudgeonly Aunt Lily (Samantha Mathis) manages a lighthouse haunted by a stylish couple from the 1920's. Accustomed to an isolated existence, Lily's only companion is a kind Japanese man (James Yaegashi) who arrived on American shores four years earlier and who elicits suspicion from the raucous sheriff (Jeb Brown).
A promising set-up, Duncan Sheik and Kyle Jarrow's new chamber musical Whisper House is boosted by Sheik's evocative music performed by 6 dynamic musicians positioned along the balcony.
Despite the score's expansive orchestrations (I would happily attend a concert featuring the instrumental score) Sheik and Jarrow's lyrics drone-on about death and disillusionment, ultimately weighing down the audience.
Although the presence of ghosts promised an eerie and creative dimension, they paled in comparison to the little known buzzing of the American coast by German U-boats in 1942 and the connection between Lily and Yasuhiro.
Directed by Steve Cosson, the crooning ghosts and Christopher do not plump up beyond a one dimensional existence while Lily and Yasuhiro languish inside a story not told. Additionally the choreography by the talented Billy Bustamante clutters the space without enhancing the characters. Despite its structural weaknesses, Cosson maintains a pleasant pace.
Produced by the highly regarded Civilians at 59E59 theater, Whisper House runs nearly 90 minutes.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipiotis