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Dobama’s ‘The Thin Place’ takes us on an endless scary ride

The funny thing about human nature is...well...the human part of it. People on a whole will see what they wish to see, hear what they wish to hear and remember what they wish to remember. This is why in criminal court cases eyewitness accounts can be the bane of the prosecution. Ten witnesses seeing the same thing will have ten different descriptions and stories. In the case of the dramatic play “The Thin Place” now on stage at Dobama Theatre, perception plays a huge part in the proceedings.

It begins with Hilda (Kelly Strand) setting the mood with a ghost story about her grandmother. They used to play a game where gran would think of a word and Hilda would have to perceive it in her mind’s eye. This went on until Hilda’s mother found out, called the whole affair demonic and kicked grandma out of the house who died of a stoke soon after. Hilda later found that she could still “communicate” with her beloved granny.

Although a shy and retiring young lady, Hilda soon meets up with Linda (Derdriu Ring) who is a prominent “ghost whisperer” during a seance at a prominent citizen’s mansion. The two hit it off and begin spending time together.

At some point in their platonic relationship Linda reveals that there is more to her ‘gift” than meets the eye. Her secret is in the size of the group and as she conjures up names and facts, she is able to neatly dovetail them together into personal stories for the eager listeners. The fact that she is English and living in America does not hurt as her accent adds yet another layer of credibility to her scam.

Linda and Hilda meet up with Jerry and Sylvia who are both well to do and skeptical of Linda’s “powers” with Sylvia being the more vocal of the pair. After a bit (quite a bit) of wine and nosh an argument breaks out concerning the privileges of the upper class. Sylvia tells of meeting a woman in Denmark who lived in a shack on the edge of a forest but is worth millions that she uses to help the downtrodden all around the world. Sylvia then points out to the fact that they are drinking their wine out of $200 glasses when $2 versions would serve the same purpose.

Jerry disagrees saying that in most cases the money is wasted and stolen by the unscrupulous who use it to control the poor and the $2 wine glasses are manufactured by people who live well below the poverty level. Sylvia leaves in a huff and the sound of $200 breaking crystal is heard off stage. Linda goes to soothe Sylvia and they return with Linda wearing an expensive dress that Sylvia had purchased in Spain, and all is happy again.

Jerry attempts to recount a scary ghost story that was the last tale told at a “ghost story evening” but is interrupted by Hilda telling the story of her missing mother who had vanished the previous Christmas. During the telling, Hilda’s phone rings with a call from her mother’s abandoned house. Jerry and Sylvia leave, and Hilda convinces Linda to go with her to investigate her mother’s house with creepy results.

The stage by Jeremy Paul is quite unique for this show as it covers a large swath across the seating area. Although much of the action takes place center stage in the wings left and right are piles of sheet covered housing discards lending a certain “bump in the night” vibe to the show before it even begins. Add to this the soft barely perceivable odd sounds in the background by Richard Ingraham and the creepy factor is ratcheted up quite a bit. The lighting (also by Jeremy Paul) forces your attention to center stage until it is dropped down for the later scarier parts.

Kelly Strand (Hilda) is superb in breaking the fourth wall to interact with an audience member who resembles her late grandma (this is added to the end of the play as well for superb effect). She plays the role of an innocent young woman who has experienced something she does not truly understand but still believes is true. Derdriu Ring (Linda) does a superb English accent that includes all of the British foibles of thought and speech. She is unfiltered and brash. James Rankin (Jerry) while trying to keep the peace still manages to bring his opinion forward. He is the voice of reason during a chaotic argument. Anjanette Hall is brazen and a highly opinionated privileged woman who thinks that simple answers will solve all of the world’s human problems. When her theories are shot down, she verbally attacks then retreats. The four actors work extremely well together, and the vocal timing is perfect.

This is in essence a 90-minute intermission free ghost story designed to make one think. What really awaits us in The Thin Place? As the play comes to its rather perturbing ending, we find the audience waiting for the other shoe to drop only to find it hanging in suspension. Everyone who witnesses this production will spend much time afterwards discussing this work. Boo!

“The Thin Place” will be on stage at Dobama Theatre, 2340 Lee Road, Cleveland Heights, Ohio through October 30, 2022. For information and tickets go to or call (216) 932-3396.


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Who is Mark Horning?

Over the course of my life I have worked a variety of jobs including newspapers, retail camera sales and photography. Eight years ago I embarked on yet another career as writer. This included articles concerning sports and cultural events in Cleveland, Ohio as well reviews of the many theatrical productions around town. These days are spent photographing professional dance groups, theater companies and various galas and festivals as well as attending various stage performances and posting reviews about them.  

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