MORE HAUNTED MASTERS adapted by Gene Franklin Smith (Troubled Souls Collective/Spadina House). Runs to November 12. See Theatre: Continuing for details. Rating: NNN
Sometimes the thrills of a ghost story come from the teller rather than the tale. That's the case with More Haunted Masters , Gene Franklin Smith 's adaptation of five short stories of the supernatural by H. G. Wells , Arthur Conan Doyle , J. Sheridan Le Fanu , Henry James and Ambrose Bierce . While most of the tales have chilling moments, Smith's adaptations tend toward the wordy; his texts sometimes reach for the clever more than the dramatic. That technique succeeds best in the comic Wells piece, Apprentice Ghost, involving a pair of self-impressed, competitive actors and a ghost who has yet to learn the moans of the trade.
Though the writing is weak, the production is sharp thanks to director Patrick Conner 's staging, which makes great use of the locations at Spadina Museum , including the impressive main staircase.
He's aided by some astute performers Bruce Beaton , Jacklyn Francis , Soo Garay , Cameron Mitchell Jr. and Craig Stanghetta who, often working within touching distance of the audience, maintain the tension of the storylines and bring passion to their multiple roles.
Even though they have trouble giving a throughline to Bierce's confusing story The Moonlit Road , they're right on target with Doyle's seance-based Playing With Fire , James's tale of sisterly jealousy and revenge and Le Fanu's melodramatic vampire story.