Metro Weekly

‘Grey House’ Review: Hell and Havoc

A new Broadway thriller forces its characters to face transgressions, fears, and regrets from days gone by.

Grey House -- Photo:  MurphyMade
Grey House — Photo: MurphyMade

You’ve arrived at Grey House. The hosts aren’t happy to have you. The guests aren’t thrilled to be there, either. Yet with a punishing snowstorm and frigid temperatures in the middle of wilderness, there is no alternative — especially for Max (Tatiana Maslany) and Henry (Paul Sparks). En route to visit Max’s father, the two crash their car into a deer, injuring Henry and leaving him with limited mobility.

Leave it to a cabin in the woods to offer the ideal location for a suspenseful plot. Many have used such a setting, both on screen and in novels. Yet few have transferred well to the stage. Ira Levin’s Deathtrap was one such exception.

The comedic thriller enjoyed a four-year run and is widely regarded as one of the most successful plays on Broadway. But it premiered in 1978, and not much since then has matched it. With Grey House (★★★☆☆), playwright Levi Holloway has come close. His chilling, psychological tale leaves audiences pondering and debating days after they’ve seen it.

Within a few minutes of entering the dilapidated property, Max and Henry are greeted by Squirrel (Colby Kipnes), a young girl who doesn’t say much but stares creepily at the couple before descending into an equally ominous basement. (We never do find out what’s in the basement but judging by the blinding light that emanates from it and the occasional screams we hear from below, we can deduce it’s not pleasant.)

The year is 1977, a perfect time period for Grey House, which evokes glimpses of The Exorcist, Rosemary’s Baby, The Omen, and other seventies horror classics.

Grey House -- Photo:  MurphyMade
Grey House — Photo: MurphyMade

All of the inhabitants of this home are just as eerie as Squirrel. There is Marlow (Sophia Anne Caruso), a self-described “bitch,” A1656 (Alyssa Emily Marvin), whose mysterious name is as cryptic as everything else in the place, The Boy (Eamon Patrick O’Connell), who says little but seems to have a supernatural prescience, Bernie (Millicent Simmonds), a young girl whose deafness plays an integral part of the story, and The Ancient (Cyndi Coyne), who may or may not be a living figure.

Apart from the Ancient, the boy and young ladies fall under the supervision of Raleigh (Laurie Metcalf), a world-weary, jaded, and tired soul with years of pain and torment burrowed onto her brows. Is she their mother? Sometimes — and they refer to her as such. Other times, they call her by her first name. Just go with it. You’ll have to suspend disbelief quite a few times in this show that poses more questions than answers.

It’s a joy having Metcalf back on a New York stage and reunited with director Joe Mantello. Audiences were shortchanged by their last collaboration, a revival of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf. It shuttered in March 2020 after only nine previews and never re-opened.

Here, like her most recognizable role on TV’s Roseanne, she is once again in her sweet spot of portraying blue-collar characters. Metcalf is a formidable stage presence and even though nearly everything in Grey House is surreal, she grounds the play in reality and genuine fright.

Grey House -- Photo:  MurphyMade
Grey House — Photo: MurphyMade

Deaf actor Simmonds, making her Broadway debut, is also a standout among the strong cast, and it is worth noting that special performances of Grey House will be performed with complete ASL interpretation and open captioning. It’s also worth crediting the production and creative team genuinely transforming commercial theater into a fully inclusive place.

Multiple award-winning scenic designer Scott Pask has given us a set that is simultaneously vast, yet cluttered, suffocating, and oppressive. The set makes one further question if everything we are witnessing are actual events or whether the show is a metaphor for the mind. Are we forced to remember past transgressions? How do we reconcile the skeletons that still haunt us and how can justice be served against those who have wronged us?

Like life, there is neither a clear nor easy answer.

Grey House stands alone as a Broadway peculiarity. One wishes that Holloway might have made some of his clues and dialogue less opaque. Nonetheless, with this fine cast under veteran director Mantello, it’s a bizarre and bold journey worth considering.

Grey House is playing at the Lyceum Theatre, 149 West 45th St., in New York City. Tickets are $58 to $268. Call 212-239-6200 or visit

Support Metro Weekly’s Journalism

These are challenging times for news organizations. And yet it’s crucial we stay active and provide vital resources and information to both our local readers and the world. So won’t you please take a moment and consider supporting Metro Weekly with a membership? For as little as $5 a month, you can help ensure Metro Weekly magazine and remain free, viable resources as we provide the best, most diverse, culturally-resonant LGBTQ coverage in both the D.C. region and around the world. Memberships come with exclusive perks and discounts, your own personal digital delivery of each week’s magazine (and an archive), access to our Member's Lounge when it launches this fall, and exclusive members-only items like Metro Weekly Membership Mugs and Tote Bags! Check out all our membership levels here and please join us today!