Shalom Life | April 24, 2014

The Mill, Part 4: Ash

The Canadian ghost story saga concludes in an apocalyptic future.

By: Miriam Cross

Published: January 19th, 2011 in Culture » Stage » Reviews

The Mill, Part 4: Ash

The Mill knows how to set a mood. Since its inception in the fall of 2009, the four-part play series about a haunted mill in small-town Ontario uses the tiny Tank House Theatre in the Distillery District to brilliant effect, showing how some well-placed special effects, moody lighting and sound, and clever uses of multimedia can make the most of what was presumably a small budget.

Arriving onstage several months later than originally expected, “Ash,” the final play in the four-part cycle, is worth the wait. To recap, the first three plays in the series (“Now We Are Brody,” “The Huron Bride,” and “The Woods”) took place in the 17th and 19th centuries, illuminating how the mill evolved from a massive burial ground of the Wendat tribe to a haunted mill that claimed the lives of everyone who tried to claim it as their own. “Ash” (written by Damien Atkins and directed by Vikki Anderson) takes place in an imagined apocalyptic future. The mill is still recognizable as its former self (and a neat effect of watching in such a small theatre is that you feel like you’re almost inside the set), but this time a hardscrabble group of survivors are taking refuge from a barren and dangerous outside world.

Included in the group are Bird (Michelle Monteith), the naïve mother figure holding them all together the menacing Fox (Ryan Hollyman) and Rabbit (Frank Cox-O’Connell), who provides most of the comic relief. Richard Greenblatt is their mysterious protector who has seemingly gone missing while trying to forage food for their survival.

Of course, the ghost-child Lyca is still kicking around the mill and terrorizing its inhabitants. This time she’s played by Natasha Greenblatt (daughter of co-star Richard Greenblatt), who takes over for Holly Lewis. The two actresses couldn’t be more different – Lewis is sallow, pale, and much more ghostly looking, whereas Greenblatt is earthy and feline (and frankly, a little too pretty for the role, even when done up with matted hair and bloodshot eyes). Nevertheless, Greenblatt matches her predecessor’s sinister air well.

Like the other three plays, “Ash” sets a genuinely creepy tone without seeming tacky. (I saw it on its first preview, where a technical malfunction eliminated most of the music and ambient noise, but I didn’t even notice anything missing.) Nevertheless, while it isn’t the weakest of the bunch (that would be the dragged-out “Woods”), it isn’t the strongest either. One problem is the casting: none of the actors seem as young or innocent as the characters they’re playing appear to be, and much of the dialogue feels stilted as a result. The characters are drawn roughly for the most part, changing motives without clear reason, and the story tends to go in circles, at least until the unexpected climax.

Still, anyone who’s followed the saga up until now will be fairly satisfied with how everything pulls together. And if this is the first time you’re hearing about it, you’re in luck: all four parts are playing in repertory until the end of the month.

“Ash” runs until Jan. 29 at the Tank House Theatre, Young Centre for the Performing Arts. For more information, visit www.theatrefront.com.

Mural, Mural on the Wall Brings Animations to Life for Your Children Mural, Mural on the Wall Brings Animations to Life for Your Children TrendingKaty Perry Impersonates Unfunny Rabbi in ‘Birthday’ Music Video [VIDEO] Katy Perry Impersonates Unfunny Rabbi in ‘Birthday’ Music Video [VIDEO] TrendingDrake to Join Pharrell and Kendrick Lamar at iHeart Radio Music Awards Drake to Join Pharrell and Kendrick Lamar at iHeart Radio Music Awards Trending
 

Jewish Hall of Fame: Émile Durkheim

April 23, 2014 | By Zak Edwards
Jewish Hall of Fame: Émile Durkheim

The French sociologist, social psychologist and philosopher is considered to be one of the founding fathers of social science

Read More

Anton Yelchin and Zooey Deschanel Slated for ‘The Driftless Area’

April 23, 2014 | By Sarah Bauder
Anton Yelchin and Zooey Deschanel Slated for ‘The Driftless Area’

The film will also star John Hawkes, Ciaran Hinds, and Alia Shawkat.

Read More

Sarah Silverman Apologizes in Advance For Swastika Doodle

April 23, 2014 | By Ashley Baylen
Sarah Silverman Apologizes in Advance For Swastika Doodle

The controversial comedian posted a doodle she drew of a swastika to her Twitter feed.

Read More

Andy Samberg to Return to ‘SNL’ as Host

April 23, 2014 | By Ashley Baylen
Andy Samberg to Return to ‘SNL’ as Host

The 'Saturday Night Live' alum will be hosting on May 17th.

Read More

Drake Lint Rolls His Pants During Raptors Playoff Game [VIDEO]

April 23, 2014 | By Ashley Baylen
Drake Lint Rolls His Pants During Raptors Playoff Game [VIDEO]

The Raptors global brand ambassador wanted to ensure he looked his best while his team beat the Brooklyn Nets

Read More

Drew Barrymore and Will Kopelman Welcome Baby Frankie

April 23, 2014 | By Ashley Baylen
Drew Barrymore and Will Kopelman Welcome Baby Frankie

The actress announced the birth of another happy baby girl on Tuesday.

Read More

Mel Brooks to Star in Autobiographical One-Man Show

April 23, 2014 | By Ashley Baylen
Mel Brooks to Star in Autobiographical One-Man Show

The 87-year old actor/director is planning a solo show in Los Angeles for one-night only.

Read More

Travel Back in Time with Google Street View

April 23, 2014 | By Daniel Koren
Travel Back in Time with Google Street View

Google's latest feature allows you to scroll through past Street view photos, whether in New York, Toronto, or Singapore

Read More

More Headlines