Review: Suspense & Horror at CATF with ENOUGH TO LET THE LIGHT IN

Now on stage through July 28th, 2024.

By: Jul. 09, 2024
Review: Suspense & Horror at CATF with ENOUGH TO LET THE LIGHT IN
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When it comes to romance, there’s nothing that warms the heart like a jolt of pure terror.  The realization that something is happening, something is present, and it shouldn’t.  But it does.  Again.  And again.

With her play Enough to Let the Light In, Paloma Nozicka has crafted one of those great psychological thrillers; the build-up is slow but steady, the characters finely drawn, and the climax will make you jump.  But there’s no need for blood, it’s all in your head.  And if you are looking for an evening that gives you a few of those none-too-subtle psychological shocks, this year’s Contemporary American Theater Festival has just the ticket.

We meet a couple, Cynthia and Marc, two young professionals whose long-term relationship seems like it’s ready for the next big step.  Cynthia has just invited Marc to see her home for the first time; a momentous event for her.  At first, her insecurity about letting friends into her place seems natural enough; but gradually, a secret reveals itself; and what started out as a lovely intimate evening for two goes off the rails completely. 

What makes Nozicka’s thriller so appropriate for live theater—and the intimate confines of the Marinoff Theater at CATF in particular—is the way it focuses you on the emotional lives of the characters, and the devastating emotional repercussions of the revelations here.  Compare this with the silver screen, where ‘revelations’ are just a pretext for blood-splattered camera lenses, screeching violins, and ghastly bits of human remains flung about at random.  For my money, psychological thrillers, which live and breathe inside your head, are the best.

Caroline Neff, as Cynthia, gives us a charismatic, somewhat dizzy-headed, seemingly OCD, artistic soul whose passion for her partner Marc seems to come from a need for stability.  Costume Designer Peggy McKowen (also the Festival’s AD) decks Neff out in one of those spangly, 70’s-style tops that suits the character to a “t” and is just over-the-top enough to hint at what is to come.  Deanna Myers’ Marc, in conservative black attire, is the subtler character, the psychiatrist whose analytical skills, so central to our own understanding of the action, eventually prove no match for what she is confronted with.  You’d think she’d seen it all, but as the revelations unfold, she has a gut-wrenching decision to make.

Enough to Let the Light In is set in one of those charmingly old, wood-paneled homes with doors, creaky stairs and archways that could lead anywhere (Mara Ishihara Zinky’s scenic design is good at facilitating the creepiness).  Cynthia’s self-portrait perches, precariously, on the wall, with avant-garde touches in the painting that hint all might not be well.  And then there’s that odd sound that seems to come out of nowhere—was that somebody’s phone?  Did you forget to turn yours off?  Why do we keep hearing it?  Christopher Darbassie’s sound design, coupled with Mary Louise Geiger’s lighting, will combine to give you the answer to these questions, with a bang or two.  And no, the answer won’t be a comfort, by any means.

So if you’re in Shepherdstown this July, and you’re looking for a date night with an edge, Enough to Let the Light In might be just the thing.

Production Photo:  Deanna Myers (left) and Caroline Neff (right) in Enough to Let the Light In by Paloma Nozicka.  Photography by Seth Freeman.

Running Time:  90 minutes without Intermission.

Enough to Let the Light In runs as a part of the Contemporary American Theatre Festival, through July 28 in the Marinoff Theatre, 62 W. Campus Drive, at Shepherd University in Shepherdstown, West Virginia.

For tickets visit https://catf.org/buy-tickets/ .  You can also email the box office at boxoffice@catf.org or call them at 681-240-2283.




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