Shiver! was an enjoyable piece of fluff that gave an audience a chance they don't often get in the theatre these days -- a chance to be scared half to death.
Six young women about to graduate college gather for a slumber party. One reason they are getting together is to remember their girlhood friend Mary Brown, who drowned after a similar get-together 10 years before. In the course of playing silly games and drinking an awful lot of vodka, the girls recall the real events that led up to Mary's death --and engage in a lot of vivid screaming when they think her spirit is back among them.
Wilhelm establishes six distinct characters, from the prudish Ronnie (Kelly Barett) to the trashy Toni (Shari Paige Acker), via the smart and skeptical Ona (Ingrid Deliz Cordova). Much talk of supernatural matters presages an apparently unmotivated attack by a toy car and a Ouija board's sudden fall from a shelf. (The Ouija board later spells out, "One will die.") A girl's white dress appears fluttering outside the window.
After many screams of surprise and numerous red herrings, most of these events -- and even Mary's death -- get explained. The play remains unsatisfying because much of the explanation is given by the demented Aunt Peggy (Katherine Parks), who has a long scene at the end to tie up the loose ends and supply missing detail. (And no one satisfactorily explains the fluttering dress. Or is that the point?)
Still, the evening was a lot of fun, and well-performed and -directed, with solid groupings and blocking. The costumes (assisted by Beverly Bullock) were a well-selected collection of nightwear. The set (pretty much what you'd expect in an attic) and lights were rudimentary but sufficient.
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Copyright 2002 John Chatterton