POST: 'The Alving Estate' - "sins are forgiven, not forgotten"


What's it about?

Although I am a little uncertain what the play was really about, this was my take: a haunting estate, possessed staff members and a mistress who is haunted by her past affair. Like a soap opera except without the intense drives to be together. Lots of passion and subtle drama. Oh, and you never sit down.

What'd I experience?

This was my first time seeing a play done like this.

It started the moment I walked onto the estate, which was 15 minutes before the listed start time for the show. I walked up a stone wall stairway and soon I had made it to the Alving Estate (which I found out at the end of the play, from hanging out, that the building was the oldest in Manhattan). I wasn't expecting to be greeted at the gate and escorted inside. Fancy.

Based on how everything was done from the moment of my arrival, I was a little confused whether or not I would ever be seated. Heads up, it never happened. Instead, as a part of the audience I was able to tour the estate. The idea was that we (the audience) were potential workers. Touring the enchanting house with the charge that I was interviewing for a job, got me on my feet. I was paying keen attention to the details of each room, trying to capture in my mind the beautiful and surreal feeling the play brought about.

I walked around the house and found some characters. For some reason, I got the feeling that it was the past life of the Mistress of the house and the haunting memory of her dead husband.

A lady who played a maid whispered in my ear, "sins are forgiven, not forgotten." Apparently, I wasn't the only one that piece of information was passed on to; after speaking to a man at the end, I found out that he was told the same thing.

This seemed to be the message of the whole show. I say this not only because they whispered it in our ears, but also because there was this Reverend who had a thing with the Mistress in the past. However, now that her husband is gone, he's trying with everything in his power to uphold his good name, the husband that is.

It was like being in Michael Jackson's music video of "Ghost", because at one point I thought for sure all the characters were possessed. I can vividly remember one of the maids acting like a drug addict even as she gave me one of the "pills" she was popping.

For me this was definitely a different experience. I felt so engaged and a part that at the end I had drink, which I usually wouldn't do. However, the mood of the play was inescapable, it was freeing. I wasn't bound to a seat, I was free to explore.  

It was delightful to be face to face with characters. And the fact that I couldn't talk, didn't really affect me. I took delight in the actions and the many things that went unsaid. And I believe this is true for real life, the things we feel the most or matter the most are often things that go unsaid.

Action does speak louder than words.

To be quite honest, I am still trying to figure out what the play was all about, but maybe that doesn't matter.


Want to see it?

$20 Student Ticket

The Alving Estate
@ the Morris-Jumel Mansion
thru Feb. 6