acearchivearrow-downarrow-drop-downbasketcalendarclockcloseemailfacebookinfoinstagramitsliverpoolleft-arrowliverpool-councillocationmail-iconmenumorenextprevright-arrowsearchshareticketstwitteruservisionwarningyoutube Skip to main content
What's on

What's more

Director Melly Still on The Haunting of Hill House

Melly Still in rehearsal for The Haunting of Hill House, photograph by Gary Calton
Melly Still in rehearsal for The Haunting of Hill House, photograph by Gary Calton

I love that the play, brilliantly adapted from Shirley Jackson's enigmatic novel, pretends to be a ghost story but ends up being so much more. The writing makes us experience it from within the consciousness of the main character, one that is unreliable, fragile but familiar somehow and gripping.

We can't shake Eleanor Vance off. 

She is complicated and peculiar, infuriating even but nevertheless engaging.  When the house permeates her unstable psyche, we are also invaded. When the house pitches and rumbles beneath her feet, we are unsteadied, too. As are the other characters she encounters.

I love that we wonder whether they have emerged from her mind and then work out they exist outside of Eleanor's personal reality. Or vice versa. Either way these are great characters to explore, including the house which is undeniably a character. They are all taken out of their comfort zones, apparently certain of themselves on first meeting and thrown into doubt, chaos and paranoia by the end.

The paranormal competes with personality disorder for top billing.

Personality disorder interests me - as it probably interests everyone - I suspect because it’s unlikely we'll avoid encountering it at some time in our life. Well... now we call it personality disorder, we frame it with a name but its impact is as unremittingly disturbing now as it ever was when it was understood as haunting.

The writing is as suggestive as the characters (and we the audience) are vulnerable to suggestion. Meaning is concealed around corners or hidden behind doors and though you're aching to pin it down you're somehow better off yielding to the delicate and arcane horror of the play.

Liverpool Everyman & Playhouse in association with Sonia Friedman Productions and HAMMER.