Ion Theatre opens its seventh season with the local premiere of Roberto Aguirre Sacasa’s The Mystery Plays, two interconnected one-act works directed by Glenn Paris. The first, The Filmmaker’s Mystery, suggests the playwright’s affection for Hitchcock, for Poe and most of all for fate at its most supernatural. But the tale of a young filmmaker (Ethan Tapley) who meets a charming stranger on a train (Benjamin Cole) and ends up escaping a deadly destiny waffles between melodrama and magical realism, and its spookiness never really takes hold. The more visceral and absorbing Ghost Children features a strong turn by Gemma Grey as a woman reliving the brutal murder of her parents and younger sister by a baseball bat-wielding brother (Nick Kennedy). Grey’s recognition of her culpability is quietly startling, and her struggle to forgive (if not forget) something unspeakable is human and restrained.
David L. Coddon is theater critic for San Diego CityBeat