Reasons to see 'Grey House' on Broadway

Read about the reasons to see the play Grey House on Broadway, including the play's unnerving design, dark amusement, and a starry cast led by Laurie Metcalf.

Joe Dziemianowicz
Joe Dziemianowicz

This terror trope doesn’t get old: A desperate couple seeks refuge in a remote cabin, only for their situation to go from bad to weird to (shriek!) worse because of their hosts. Welcome to Grey House, an award-winning play by Chicago writer Levi Holloway that gives theatregoers a rare and special treat – the chance to squirm in the grip of a horror story on Broadway. If, like me, you’re a fan of the mysterious and the macabre, the play will give you a brain buzz. Tony Award winner Laurie Metcalf anchors director Joe Mantello’s ensemble cast.

Grey House reeks floor-to-ceiling ominous.

Creating a distinct vibe for a thriller determined to unnerve is a must. Just try to take your eyes – and ears – off the scene-stealing house! The design team delivers with a property straight from the pages of Hell Decor. Natasha Katz’s lighting and blackouts are textbook terror, while the devil is in the details of Scott Pask’s terrific set. An overall unsettling sense of disorder hits you first, but once you glimpse the icky pod clusters on the ceiling, you can’t unsee them — or stop obsessing over them.

What you can’t see also spooks. Tom Gibbons’s dynamic sound design makes the walls come alive with periodic creaks, groans, and scratches. What is in there? Who is in there?

Grey House flips the script on innocence.

Max (Tatiana Maslany) and her husband Henry (Paul Sparks) innocently end up in the cabin after he breaks his ankle in a car accident. They encounter a pack of strange girls, late teens and younger, whose actions start out odd and quickly turn menacing. Holloway’s script emits an icy chill that comes courtesy of the way he suggests there are no accidents in life. Max and Henry are where they are for a reason – and that’s tied to the fact that they can’t outrun the past. It catches up with people – The Postman Always Rings Twice-style. It’s a cautionary message worth mulling over.

Grey House employs a provocative game.

Just as Holloway mashes together horror subgenres – haunted house and telekinesis here, ghost story there – he shrewdly stirs in darkly amusing moments. One of the play’s highlights — and turning points — comes when the girls engage Max in a disturbing parlor game of truth-telling. When she lies in response to their questions, agonized screams from the girls’ caretaker Raleigh (Metcalf), rise up from the basement. When Max gets real, the deafening shrieking stops.

The scene is punctuated by one of the play’s best lines. “Thanks for telling the truth up here,” says Raleigh. “That game’s a motherfucker.” She’s right. Unvarnished honesty can truly be scary.

Get tickets to Grey House on Broadway.

Unlike dramas about dysfunctional families that are common on Broadway, horror plays are theatrical unicorns. Grey House gives you a chance to indulge your taste for something creepy. The play runs at the Lyceum Theatre — visit if you dare.

Photo credit: Laurie Metcalf, Tatiana Maslany, Alyssa Emily Marvin, and Millicent Simmonds in Grey House on Broadway. (Photo by MurphyMade)

Originally published on

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