REVIEW: The House By The Lake

Hamish Stevens, Andrew Johnson, Natasha Keene. Photo Photo credit /David Guthrie

Title: The House By The Lake
Written by: Hugh Mills (1954)
Directed by: Andrew Gordon
Rating: 4 stars

Howick Little Theatre’s latest production has it all — a thrilling storyline, strong characters, strong actors and a brilliant set.

I was certainly on the edge of my seat during Sunday’s matinee performance of The House By The Lake, directed by Andrew Gordon.

Set in the 1950s, the play follows a professionally discredited doctor (Hamish Stevens) and his sister (Bess Brookes) who plan to eliminate their half brother, Colin (Andrew Johnson), the cause of their present poverty and misery, and start life again in another country.

However, of course it all goes wrong when Colin’s unhappy wife (Julie Gunn) is also prompted to murder him, so when his body is found beneath the broken ice of the lake, it’s not easy to know who is responsible.

While I’m full of praise for the entire cast, I was particularly impressed by Natasha Keene in the role of Janet Holt. Keene began with a strong stage presence and maintained it throughout the play. I enjoyed watching her character develop throughout the story and truly came to feel pity for the situation she found herself in.

However where there is good, there is evil and Andrew Johnson delivered perfectly in the role of Colin as the villain of the play.

Another character highlight included the role of Nurse Thomson, played by Lynette Murray-Roundtree. While the role was small, she perfectly portrayed the feisty character and added spots of humour to some intense scenes.

I must also mention the set, designed by David Gifford, which made me feel as if I was right there in the living room of the lakeside house. I also particularly enjoyed the use of the lake background scenery visible through the glass doors which added to the feeling of being right there with the characters.

Lighting can add and detract so much to and from a play — and in this case, it added a whole lot of tense atmosphere. While the spotlight shone on Janet in the final act, I’m sure I was not alone holding my breath and sitting tensely in the audience.

I highly recommend heading down to Howick Little Theatre and seeing The House By The Lake for yourself. You’ll gasp and you’ll laugh as you follow the twists and turns of the Holt family drama — and you’ll love every moment.

  • The House By The Lake is showing at Howick Little Theatre until May 26 at 8pm. Matinee May 13, 2pm. Tickets available from iticket.co.nz