I saw The Bone House many years ago, when it was an Edmonton Fringe play. At that time, I thought it was one of the best plays I have ever seen. Last night, I saw the latest version - and I still think the version I saw 10 years ago is one of the best plays I have ever seen.
Don't get me wrong, The Bone House, in it's current version, is a powerful play. A friend told me afterwards he constantly worked to 'stand aside' from the action, to remember that 'this is just a play', to not get pulled into the story. And I'm sure he is not alone. If you do let yourself be pulled into the play (and I encourage you to do so for the best experience), The Bone House may be overwhelming.
It's hard to talk much about the play, without giving away the details... and I certainly do not want to spoil many of the surprises the play holds for the unsuspecting audience.
So I'll talk instead about the differences. Of course memory if a wonderful, fickle thing. We remember things that were not there - forget things that were there...
I saw this version of The Bone House as very 'multi-media', 'internet savy'. eg. It reaches out to the modern audience. There are gruesome images of dead bodies, plucked I presume from the internet. A 'video' of one of the killings - now that we expect movie cameras to be everywhere.
The version I originally saw had little of that. It was set in a school gymnasium, and the play looked like a sales pitch by a city slicker visiting a small town in the country. Today's version looks like a play a lot of the time, which is unfortunate, because the audience is more aware that this is theatre. One of the strengths of the text and the action, is the crossover between theatre and reality.
I think I remember four killings in the original - as part of the play. I could be wrong? There were two in this version. Giving me the sense of a 'speeded up for television' version (I don't own a television, but I am certainly aware that television avoids most details, to maintain pace and give the viewer lots of action).
I hear stories, and do not doubt, that when the play first opened at the Edmonton Fringe, some members of the audience were physically sick during the performance. The Bone House is not for weak stomachs. People under 15 are not allowed to attend.
If you want to see something that crosses the lines between theatre and reality, and scares the pants off of you, while crossing the line - buy a ticket to The Bone House. And let yourself be sucked into the action. Maybe you should buy two, so you have someone to walk you home. The Bone House will deliver.
And when you leave the theatre? Don't be surprised if you find yourself watching your back.