| Scott Creighton, right, is a man with secrets and Neil Brookshire is charged with drawing them out, not as a therapist, but on the stage.
Living one’s authentic self is all the rage these days. Support gurus always encourage people that we are only as sick as our secrets, and to be fulfilled we must unload the shame.
Kipps is a man with a lot to unload.
What about and how is the subject of “The Woman in Black,” Company of Fools’ latest production, which starts Wednesday, Oct. 17, at the Liberty Theatre in Hailey. The play by Stephen Malatratt is based on a horror novel about a menacing ghost that haunts a small English town.
The action takes place in a small theater just after Kipps, a onetime budding actor turned lawyer played by the expressive chameleon Scott Creighton, has encountered Neil Brookshire’s character, an actor, in a pub and intimated a need to unburden himself of some unsavory memories.
“As tormented and distraught a man as I have ever seen. And when I asked you why—you told me a tale—that chilled me to the marrow—I understood—I sympathized and I made a bargain with you—we would purge you of your nightmare—and we would do it on my ground,” Brookshire relates.
“It’s not a performance that I wish to give,” Creighton’s character resists. “I wish to speak it. No more. For my family, only. For those who need to know. Those terrible things that happened to me—they must— I have to—let them be told. For my health and reason.
“All I wish is that this tale of mine be told. Be told and—laid to rest. So I may sleep—without nightmares. …”
Brookshire, who has previously appeared with the Company in “Uncle Vanya” said he scared himself reading it alone at 1 p.m.
“I had to watch comedies at night!” he said.
Creighton, who performs Kipps as a younger man as well as a number of other characters Kipps met along the way, said he felt the weight of his character’s burden. In rehearsal, he wore Kipps’ torment with his whole body.
“This guy clearly has had an intricate event happen to him and he’s just trying to make sense of it,” Creighton said. “It’s hard.”
The story unfolds with Brookshire’s drawing out the tale from Creighton and eventually scaring the bejesus out of themselves and, if director John Glenn has his way, the audience as well.
“This is an excellent sit-around-a-campfire ghost story,” he said last week. “We wanted to tell it with that kind of intimacy.”
To that end, most of the theater is repositioned to serve as the stage, and the audience is being offered limited seating on the actual stage, a fun challenge for sound designer Ted Macklin, set designer Joe Lavigne and stage manager K.O. Ogilive to create a moody presence, which is helped by the age of the Liberty and the fact that the Company feels hauntings are part of its fabric.
“At least haunted by a lot of stories,” joked Company actress Denise Simone.
Glenn said the spine-tingling event offers more with less than do most other productions.
“The terror of the story is much more in what is in the imagination of the audience than what they can see,” he said.
Insert spooky laugh here.
If you dare:
Tickets can be bought online at www.companyoffools.org or at the door.
Tonight is “Pay What You Feel” at 7 p.m.
Shows runs from Wednesday Oct. 17 through Sunday, Oct. 21, from Tuesday, Oct. 23, through Saturday, Oct. 27, and Tuesday, Oct. 30 through Saturday, Nov. 3.