My worst nightmares are concoctions my own mind produces. Snippets of real life combine with the phantasmagorical to terrify. Sometimes during the bad dream, I realize I’m asleep and I unconsciously try to wake myself up. Occasionally, I’m successful at opening my eyes. Other times, I’m hazily aware I’m trapped in the recesses of my self-generated horror.
Red Tape Theatre presents THE SKRIKER. On the surface, Josie and Lily are friends. Josie is in an asylum. Lily is pregnant. A mysterious woman is trying to befriend Lily. Josie knows the woman for the shapeshifter that she is. She has seen The Skriker in the underworld. She recognizes the evil intent below the surface. THE SKRIKER intrigues with deranged chaos.
Playwright Caryl Churchill penned an ode to insanity. Churchill creates multiple scenarios where a pregnant girl is pursued by this supernatural creature. Her best friend is on guard but also delusional. The story itself is a montage of contemporary reality and ghoulish fantasy. Under the multi-faceted direction of Eric Hoff, the experience is part fun-house, part haunted-house, part mad-house. The show starts with the audience gathered in a hallway. At the end of it is a pulsating nest. The heap of humans are breathing in synchronized rhythm. The imagery is fascinating! From the pile, Sadie Rogers (The Skriker) is *birthed.* The movement (choreographer Myah Shein) throughout the show compels for its elegant and gaudy eroticism. Rogers‘ entrance is particularly transfixing and she continues to hold court throughout the show.
Walls move. Demons dance. And Rogers dominates. Rogers effectively morphs into a variety of different characters trying to woo Lily. The part is demanding. And Rogers meets the challenge like a woman possessed. She is phenomenal! Carrie Drapac (Lily) plays it perfectly superficial like the pretty girl victim in any horror movie, over and over. Amanda Drinkall (Josie) is disturbingly poignant. A crazed Drinkall is the unexpected voice of reason.
The entire show is orchestrated with ever-changing pageantry. The design team (Emily Guthrie-scenic, Izumi Inaba -costume, Karen M. Thompson -lighting, Stephen Ptacek-sound, Ellen Ranney-props) layer on the intrigue with a-mazing corridors of lunacy. Because the show is done in promenade, the audience is constantly on their feet. We shuffle down the hallways. We loiter in the action. The experience is powerful but tiring. I became overly concerned with elderly patrons grappling in the dark for a prop to sit on. The show could easily shave off fifteen minutes or line the outer walls with benches.
THE SKRIKER is trudging through hell and back...wear comfortable shoes.
Running Time: Ninety-five minutes in *promenade* with no intermission
At Red Tape Theatre, 621 W. Belmont
Written by Caryl Churchill
Directed by Eric Hoff
Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays at 8pm
Thru October 20th
Buy Tickets at www.redtapetheatre.org
Production photo courtesy of Austin D. Oie.