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Greystone Mansion Brings Back a Haunted, Immersive Theater Experience 

Photos courtesy of Aversa PR

The Manor, a two-act play by Kathrine Bates, comes back to Delaware County for its fourth season at Greystone Mansion in West Chester.

By Samantha Geiger and Kim Douglas 

At Greystone Hall and Colonial Playhouse in West Chester, the spine-tingling sensations of Halloween live on through a new play. Titled The Manor, the play is full of scandal and murder dating back to the 1920s and based on a true story. Unsurprising, the haunted aesthetic at Greystone matches the spectacle perfectly. 

the manor

The tragic event of the play took place at a mansion that an oil magnate, Edward Doheny, built for his son. These events were rewritten by playwright and actress, Kathrine Bates who also produced Talhotblond and acted in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, among others. The original play is shown annually at the same mansion at which the events took place in Beverly Hills, CA. The play explores the triumphs and tribulations of fame and fortune. 

greystone mansion

Velda Moog, managing partner for Greystone, explains how the story starts off on a positive note. “The story starts on a high note….while giving some hints that something may be coming. You have a couple of story threads going through it, and then the second half is much more intense and very high drama,” she explains. 

The play is an immersive experience. The 12 actors don’t interact with the audience, but they are placed in the scene to make them feel a part of the experience. The play takes place in four different rooms of the Manor. The audience is randomly assigned to three different groups when entering for a more complete immersion in the play’s scenes in smaller rotations. 

greystone mansion

The idea has merit. The audience is nearly on top of the actors in an intimate bedroom scene, with chairs pressing against the walls and two deep, staged in a circular turret room the audience is locked into the action. A particularly tense scene between a burly, troubled husband and his high-strung wife is within arm’s reach of observers. A woman on the other side of the large, oblong drawing room contemplates the ceiling and barely seemed to notice the drama.  

“The idea [to move the scenes throughout the rooms of the manor] just came to me when I was putting the scenes on index cards and moving them around,” says playwright Kathrine Bates. A resident of CA, Bates was in town for opening night of the encore presentation of The Manor. “And just like that, the manor itself became a character in the play.” 

When asked if moving from room to room is distracting, recent audience member Marcella Roulhac of West Chester says, “The décor itself was distracting [from the play]! The manor is amazing.” She attended with a friend who had been to the manor previously and found the play charming.

the manor play

Light hors d’oeuvres are served during a brief intermission, giving the audience an opportunity to further satisfy themselves with still more rooms of the great manor, inside and out. Unlike most theatrical events in which the audience can seem to burst out of the main stage onto streets and side halls, this audience can linger on to meet and mingle with the actors, playwright and each other. 

While it may seem like a lot of work goes into the production of the set, that isn’t the case with Greystone. Moog explains how the house is already furnished, so there’s no need to set up or remove a set.  

greystone mansion

Running through Thanksgiving weekend, the idea is for families to have something to do with visitors coming to the area for the holiday. There will be shows running Friday through Sunday. Tickets are $60 per person with limited seating, so get yours for the holiday weekend!  

Related: The Haunted Selma Mansion Gives Norristown a Paranormal Energy