Feature

Ghost Brothers of Darkland County

This new musical marries a script by Stephen King to a score by John Mellencamp.

Alliance Theatre, Atlanta
(404) 733-4650

**

The names involved certainly raise expectations, said Frank Rizzo in Variety. This new musical marries a script by Stephen King to a score by John Mellencamp, with musical direction by T Burnett Bone. King has spun a Gothic yarn about two Mississippi brothers, Jack and Andy, locked in a deadly rivalry over a local girl. And that story is told via the flashbacks of their brother Joe, who, having become a father, wants his two squabbling sons to avoid the same tragic end. But King hasn’t written a play before, and it shows. Jake and Andy “are ill-defined beyond a few broad strokes, and the dialogue is clunky.” Mellencamp’s score helps, but his bluesy songs “rarely lift the proceedings emotionally.” Unfortunately, “it takes more than a groove and gore” to engage an audience.

Yet it would be a shame to undervalue the efforts of those lower on the marquee, said Bert Osborne in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The names of projection designer Adam Larsen and set designer Todd Rosenthal certainly won’t “sell a lot of tickets.” Yet the way they represent the parallel universes in King’s story provides a “spectacularly spooky” experience. The actors, too, make the most of what they’re given, particularly Shuler Hensley, who’s an intense Joe, and Jake La Botz, who’s “unforgettable” as The Shape, a figure who guides the characters’ actions from the beyond. Though the show “spirals wildly out of control in its final 15 minutes,” it’s still “a pretty awesome spectacle.”

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