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October 3rd, 2013

The Monster in the Closet: A Review of “Stalking the Bogeyman”

“Stalking the Bogeyman” is based on a true story by David Holthouse and is adapted and directed by Markus Potter. 

If you only see one play this year, I urge you to see “Stalking the Bogeyman” at NC Stage Company. Not only does it feature our very own Callan White-Hinman, but it is a powerful piece of drama that depicts the constant struggle of humanity against the ‘Bogeymen’ of the world, as well as the bogeymen that lurk inside us all. The play is a dramatization of a true story that aired on NPR’s This American Life, where journalist David Holthouse recounts how he was violently raped as a child and how 25 years later he confronted the man who raped him.

The power of small theater is in its intimacy. In a well-executed production, there is a connection that occurs between the story and the audience wherein the audience members become active onlookers. Think of the moment in the Harry Potter books when Harry is inside Dumbledore’s memories. Although he can do nothing to change the outcome of these past events, Harry becomes actively caught up in the story unfolding before him. The cast of NC Stage presents a well-executed performance that draws the audience into the life of David Holthouse, and presents his motivation for murder with a thriller-like quality that will leave you on the edge of your seat.

Callan plays Mrs. Holthouse, David’s mother. Here’s what she has to say about her experience in this role: “I love the opportunity of working with an outstanding cast of professional actors who are willing to be vulnerable with each other in order to tell a story that will viscerally affect an audience and offer insight and understanding beyond the theatrical experience. To hear from audience members that this is a healing experience for their own personal tragedies is a true ministry for me.  To know that this show will bring this kind of crisis to public awareness is profound. What is painful for me is to embody the heartbreak and emotional tsunami that this mother experienced. As a mother, the thought of having my children (or any child) subject to this kind of violation fills me with such horror and sadness. To know that there are countless stories of violations like this breaks my heart.”

In talking with Callan about the play, I asked her to tell me why she thinks it is important for the Montreat student body to see this show. She answered “this is the world premiere of a man’s true story about being raped at the age of 7 and how it affected his entire life.  It is a compelling drama that allows us to see into the human struggle of revenge versus forgiveness.  It is about the choices we make.  It is about the struggle of the Bogeyman inside of us as well as outside. Whether or not one has been a victim of any kind of abuse, this story is an important journey that will command your attention and compassion.” If you do not get to see the show, I urge you to at least listen to the recording of the broadcast on www.thisamericanlife.org. The archive number is 425 and is titled “Slow to React.”

The show runs through Sunday, October 13. Student tickets are $10. Show times are 7:30 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday and 2 p.m. on Sundays. I attended the show on opening night and had the honor to join a talkback after the show with the director of the play and David Holthouse himself. It was amazing to hear the feedback from members of the audience who had experienced similar situations of abuse in their past. One woman in particular pointed out how just a few generations ago, topics such as sexual abuse and domestic violence simply were not talked about; such issues were swept under the rug where they were left to accumulate over the years. It’s time to break the cycle. Through his willingness to be open and vulnerable about what happened to him, David Holthouse has set in motion a cycle of healing, establishing an example for our generation and future generations to follow.