By Mark Steensland
I wish theatre horror was a bigger thing. I wish more people would realise how amazing this genre can – and does – do on stage, especially when the right special effects are used. And there’s something much more terrifying about being right there and seeing something unfold on stage, rather than witnessing it through a screen. There’s a more constant threat when seeing horror live, a sensation that what you’re watching really can break the fourth wall and come right at you.
Ghost Stories is a perfect example of this, and I will scream from the rooftops about how amazing that production is. Give it a few years and I imagine The Deception of Kathryn Vask will get a production to rival it. If this ever gets a UK tour, I’ll be first in line for tickets, though perhaps will avoid the front row. Just to tell you how good this play is, I have only read the script and yet I know if I can see it on stage, it’s another play to add to my “productions everyone must see” list.
Kathryn blames herself for the death of her son. And she fears he blames her for it, too. When therapy doesn’t work, she discusses her options with her priest, and approaches her sceptical husband with a possible solution. She suggests they hold a séance, giving her the chance to ask her son directly if he is angry at her for not being there when he needed her.
But Kathryn’s priest and husband have other plans. At the priest’s suggestion, they arrange a fake séance, hiring actors so Kathryn can receive what she so desperately needs in order to move on.
Things, of course, do not go according to plan.
It’s hard to fully judge a play with only the script itself to go on, but this is one easy to picture on stage. The dialogue is good and flows well, the characters are vivid and believable, and this would be wonderful to see fully done with cast and effects.
Scripts can sometimes be difficult to read. They might remind one too much of school, of slogging through Shakespeare with a teacher’s voice droning on. And you can never really get a full picture with a script. It’s the acting and direction that brings it to life. So for a writer to produce a script this entertaining to read, this gripping, is impressive. In just the use of dialogue, Steensland conveys these characters wonderfully and immerses us in their world.
The Deception of Kathryn Vask is one I would suggest keeping an eye out for, and if you get the ability to see it in the future, definitely do so. In the meantime, I’ll be trying to get my hands on more of Steensland’s work. Because if he can do this with a script, I can only imagine what his talents are like in other areas.
Review by Elle Turpitt
I received this e-book from the author for review consideration.