Review Roundup: What Did Critics Think of THE HAUNTED LIFE at Merrimack Repertory Theatre?

Review Roundup: What Did Critics Think of THE HAUNTED LIFE at Merrimack Repertory Theatre?

THE HAUNTED LIFE opened at Merrimack Repertory Theatre in Boston on March 20 and is running through April 14, 2019.

If you follow your heart, where will it lead you?

Home, Lowell, 1942. College student Peter argues politics with his conservative father, dreams of adventure with his buddies, and romances his girl. It's a breezy, golden summer until WWII brings an alarming darkness. Peter witnesses the toll the war takes on everyone he loves, and he desperately seeks his place in a changing America.

In honor of the MRT's 40th Anniversary Season in Lowell, MRT brings a new adaptation of a "lost" novel set in Lowell by Jack Kerouac, who was born and raised here. UMass Lowell professor Todd F. Tietchen edited the manuscript, which is full of Kerouac's gorgeous and poetic prose. It is adapted by MRT Artistic Director Sean Daniels (The White Chip) and produced in collaboration with the Estate of Jack Kerouac.

The Haunted Life: Recommended for ages 13 and older.

Run time: 2 hours, including one 15-minute intermission.

For tickets and more information, please visit https://mrt.org/show/haunted-life

Let's see what the critics have to say...

Nancy Grossman, BroadwayWorld: James J. Fenton's scenic design features a tiered, shiny black floor surrounded by walls of window frames rising on three sides. Brian J. Lilienthal's design effectively uses a combination of overhead spots, footlights, and changing hues to transition between narrative and dialogue scenes. Sarita Fellows provides costume design evocative of the 1940s and the family's economic status. Sound designer David Remedios gives us Red Sox play-by-play, Benny Goodman music, and soft underscoring.

Joel Brown, Boston Globe: Also packing a punch is Boston theater stalwart Colodner as Peter's father. His bigoted rants about being overrun by foreigners (the Greeks and Italians and Armenians!) make him a MAGA figure, though this is so on-the-nose that it becomes a (funny) distraction.

Jay Atkinson, Arts Fuse: As a writer, Kerouac rarely featured set pieces of narrative action, and neither does this play. The five actors almost never leave the stage, which is encrusted with a huge collection of windows, suggesting a crowded urban neighborhood. For example, when Peter and Joe Martin are engaged in a conversation dominated by the paterfamilias, the other actors watch from the sidelines, delivering exposition in the form of soliloquies. At times, these speeches are helpful, but often come across as staged readings of Kerouac's ornate, multi-layered prose.

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