Theatre 40 is back this month for its thirteenth year of "The Manor," a real-life soap opera based on true events. Presented on location at Greystone Mansion in Beverly Hills, the production leads guests from room to room, loosely reenacting the grisly events that took place there in the 1920s and 30s. The location is beautiful, with perfectly manicured grounds and stunning views of Los Angeles. The history within the walls of the landmark mansion however, is laced with scandal, bribery, greed and death.
Playwright Katherine Bates wrote this story centered on the fictional MacAlister family. Many might see the correlation of her inspiration, the true history of the Doheny family, who made their fortune in oil in the '20s and constructed the actual mansion in the hills above the Sunset Strip.
Charles MacAlister makes bad business decisions with life-long friend senator Winston leaving them both in hot water with the law, facing criminal charges in a bribery scandal that ultimately destroys the families. At the same time, there is a love triangle brewing with son Sean MacAlister, his new bride Abby and life-long friend Gregory Pugh. As the tagline promises, "If it hadn't actually happened, Hollywood could not invent it."
The production is directed by Flora Plumb, who has more than 75 productions under her belt. You can see her experience in the form of her actors who grace the rooms of the mansion with a respect and admiration for their work that can be felt in their performance. There's a reason why "The Manor" surpassed its 200th performance last year and is still going strong.
The delightful servants of the mansion served as our narrators and house guides for the evening. Daniel Lench, Katherine Henryk and Esther Levy Richman played the butler, housekeeper and maid and made sure we all felt like welcomed house guests. We are, after all, simply visitors at the Manor and their hospitality was greatly appreciated.
The cast of "The Manor" were all superb, the show deals with real-life trauma and despair and there is a general regard for this truth in every performance.