Review: Richmond Hill Players' MISERY
Ever since Thursday evening I have had an ear worm circling my brain from a somewhat silly yet amusing Country song from a long time ago. The chorus went, “gloom, despair, pain, and misery…and that pretty much sums up Richmond Hill Players’ current production of Misery, the masterful stage adaptation penned by prolific author, playwright and screen writer, William Goldman, of Stephen King’s novel of the same name and directed by RHP,s well-seasoned veteran, Dana Skiles, who – at the tender age of 35 – has been involved in theatre for 20 years and has directed nine shows at this venue. Directing this show ticks off a box on her bucket list.
Goldman has a long line of success including adaptations for Marathon Man, The Princess Bride, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, and All the President’s Men, the last two of which snagged him Academy Awards. This script is no less worthy and is especially notable in that Misery was considered one of King’s least adaptable novels.
I’m not a particular fan of King because I’m a complete sissy when it comes to the horror genre so I have always assumed this was a very scary story and have neither read the book nor seen the movie version of this work. I’m glad that changed with this show.
Heading up this talented cast of three is Jackie Skiles as Annie Wilkes, the fatally obsessive “number one fan” of Paul Sheldon, the author of her favorite series of books, here brought to life by Jonathan Grafft. Annie rescues Paul from a car wreck during a blizzard and subsequently holds him hostage as she forces him to write a new novel to her specification. Skiles’ subtle portrayal of Annie’s escalating fixation surprised me – I was expecting a much more sinister portrait of the character. That subtlety made Annie’s finale all the more shocking.
Grafft more than meets the challenge of being bed-ridden and wheelchair-bound for almost the entire performance. I’ve long admired Grafft’s gifted performances in other projects in which I’ve seen him and this is yet another arrow in the quiver of his roles.
Rounding out the cast as ill-fated Sheriff Buster is the solidly dependable Patrick Kelly, fresh off his stint in Drinking Habits 2 just last month at RHP.
This script is interesting in that it consists of a myriad of very brief scenes so short, in fact, that it seems many of the scene changes take longer than the scenes themselves.
One thing I really liked - and almost missed – was a window treatment on the set. The time span of the action covers about 10 or so weeks beginning in February. The view out that window began with a snow covered landscape. During the intermission that view was quietly changed to what appears as the beginning of the spring melt on that very same view. Nice touch!
Misery continues at Richmond Hill Players in Geneseo Thursday through Saturday, June 8 through 10 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, June 11 at 3:00 p.m.