A stone pathway lit with lanterns leads me to the side entrance of the Morris-Butler House, setting a spooky scene for the performance of “From Dark Pages.” The progressive play, written specifically for the house, takes the audience on a journey through the hallways, parlors and studies on a search for Jack the Ripper. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and his character Sherlock Holmes, along with a faithful butler named Morris, usher the small audience through the rooms and warn us of the ever-present danger.
The play works as a series of vignettes featuring an all-star Victorian cast, including Edgar Allen Poe and Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde. If you’re familiar with the various stories, like “The Telltale Heart” and The Turn of the Screw, the scenes lose some of their magic and unpredictability. However, Sir Arthur continually entertains us with his sense of humor and mischief. There isn’t a great deal of tension in the story and the mystery develops without many surprises.
“From Dark Pages” is certainly fun, yet walks a strange line demographically. The subject matter of the play is rather adult, considering Jack the Ripper dismembered prostitutes; “From Dark Pages” doesn’t skimp on the graphic details. The ending especially struck me as too mature for the group of children that were present. However, there was no harm done and none of the parents seemed particularly perturbed. I feel that the whole experience may have been more effective if it had been written specifically for adults OR children.
I encourage anyone interested to check out “From Dark Pages” for themselves. The show will run October 18th to the 20th and the 25th to the 27th, with shows at 7:30, 8:30 and 9:30pm.