Written by James Goss, Directed by Stuart Manning
In which Collinwood maid Beth Chavez (Crawford) reluctantly joins in the “Let’s Pretend” games of Jenny Collins (Wallace), Quentin’s mad wife locked away in the Tower Room. But this evening, it’s as if the game was playing them instead of vice versa…
Marie Wallace has said repeatedly that “Crazy Jenny” was her favourite character to play on Dark Shadows, and here it’s easy to see why – the part allows for a wide gamut of emotions and moods to be expressed, and Wallace goes for it with gusto, often infusing Jenny with sympathy as the free-spirited young woman repeatedly clashes with the drab propriety enforced by Judith Collins in the name of bedridden Grandmama Edith.
Although Terry Crawford is initially stuck in the largely thankless, reactive role of Beth Chavez – all murmured apologies and falterings – she soon shines as the other characters that Jenny urges her to enact. Her Quentin impression isn’t very convincing, but she’s great as austere grande dame Judith and her seemingly-kind-but-actually-quite-cruel sister-in-law Laura.
But ultimately The Doll House belongs to Marie Wallace, who dominates the proceedings and yet only ever goes completely over the top (in a “Joan Crawford as portrayed by Faye Dunaway” fashion) once. In the hands (vocal cords?) of a lesser performer, Jenny could’ve easily been played to the rafters, but Wallace doesn’t take that obvious route, and the drama is all the better for it.
VERDICT: Although essentially filling in missing bits of backstory leading up to the 1897 Flashback storyline, The Doll House poignantly succeeds in making Jenny Collins more than just a Bertha Rochester knockoff. 7/10
John S. Hall
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