WE HAVE ALWAYS LIVED IN THE CASTLE -- Witchcraft in New England.
By Bob & Karen Isaacs
BOB: Yale Rep has opened the world premier of a musical, We Have Always Lived in the Castle, based on the Shirley Jackson novel of the same name. The book and lyrics are by Adam Bock and the music and lyrics by Todd Almond. I found it to be more opera than musical.
KAREN: I'll agree that this is more chamber opera than musical. And all I want to ask, is it too much to want a melody you can HUM?
BOB: There aren't many Puccinis writing any more.
KAREN: This is a typical Shirley Jackson story -- she did write "The Lottery" -- it is very gothic. It's set in Vermont, I believe, and there is an older sister, Constance, who was acquitted of a horrible crime six years before -- poisoning her family. She lives with her devoted younger sister Merricat and her uncle in the family home -- they were obviously the wealthiest members of the community. Their handsome cousin comes to visit and that sets everything in motion. This piece is appropriate for October when we think of Halloween and witches; if Merricat had lived in the 1600s she might have been on trial.
BOB: She does a lot of that hocus-pocus stuff. Merricat, really Mary Catherine, is the narrator of the story. The cousin is trying to get the older sister back into society -- she has hidden herself away in the house; she never goes to town only Merricat does. The townspeople all think Constance was guilty.
KAREN: And when the cousin appears
BOB: it seems like he is trying -- he wants to get back into the family which was very wealthy, get their money that is kept in a safe and possibly do that through a relationship with Constance. But that means he has to break the tight bond between her and Merricat.
KAREN: First of all the acting is very good -- Jenn Gambatese plays Constance and Alexandra Socha plays Merricat. The direction and set are terrific.
BOB: Anne Kauffman does a good job directing this. But it does move very slowly.
KAREN: Particularly in the first act. The pace seems slow and there is a lot of repetition.
BOB: I think you are right -- it is a chamber opera.
KAREN: If you think of it as musical, you will expect more than you will get.
BOB: It runs through Oct. 9.
KAREN: It's an interesting piece,
BOB: but it won't move you.
KAREN: Right -- and at times it is very obvious.
This review ran on WNHU -88.7 FM and wnhu.net through Oct. 7.