Whisper House is a refreshingly completely original musical, with a score by Duncan Sheik (whose previous works Spring Awakening and American Psycho, I’ve really enjoyed the scores for), and with a book by Kyle Jarrow, it is described as a dark and thrilling ghost story.
It follows Christopher (Fisher Costello-Rose at the performance I saw), a young boy whose father has been killed in World War 2 and whose mother has been committed to an asylum, who is sent to live with his reclusive Aunt Lily (Dianne Pilkington) who lives in a secluded lighthouse with just her Japanese housekeeper (Nicholas Goh) for company. However, are they truly alone, or are ghosts from a long ago tragedy haunting the house?
Duncan Sheik and Kyle Jarrow’s score is gorgeous; and mostly bought to life by a great onstage band and the ghostly singers, Simon Bailey and Niamh Perry. It has a really effective eerie country twang, and I have my fingers crossed that a cast album will be recorded.
The book is perhaps a little slight although it does a good job of exploring Christopher’s desire to be a hero like his father and his guilt about what happened to his mother, and his unfortunate desire to please the local sheriff Charles (Simon Lipkin), and also Lily’s long-standing guilt over a sea-tragedy many years ago. Pilkington is good at giving Lily more of a character beyond simple curmudgeon. Some of Lipkin’s lines about removing ‘enemy aliens’ felt eerily prescient given current events.
As I was at the first preview, due to some technical difficulties, the second act was performed in concert style, so I feel like I probably can’t comment too much on Adam Lenson’s direction, beyond saying that the show didn’t drag at all which was refreshing. There was also some really nice lighting design from Alex Drofiak, and illusions courtesy of Richard Pinner.
Whisper House is a really enjoyable evening of new music, and I’m excited to see what else comes out of The Other Palace in the coming months.