Written by Scott T. Barsotti
Heart-tuggingly demonic; horrifically entertaining
|WildClaw Theatre presents|
Review by Katy Walsh
I caught my seventy year old dad trying to cut down a tree limb. He was standing on the top of a ladder with a chainsaw over his head. I recently got broadsided by a van. I was riding my bike. What’s worse, being the bystander or the victim? The obvious answer is victim. But the more I think about it, the more I realize watching a loved one make destructive choices hurts much more.
WildClaw Theatre presents the world premiere of Kill Me. Cam was in a car accident. Her injuries resulted in a coma. She woke up feeling invincible. Her sister Wendy and her lover Grace worry about her. Cam is talking about unbelievable things. She thinks that her ‘death was taken away.‘ She wants Wendy and Grace to believe her. She is rationalizing killing herself to prove it. Cam is surrounded by Paranoia, Dread, Angst, and Despair. And her demons are trying to suck the life out of her loved ones. Is Cam in hell? Or is it in her head? Or is it all a dream? Kill Me is a fantasy nightmare for the believer and the disbelievers.
Playwright Scott T. Barsotti wrote a phantasmagorical tale. At the heart of it is love. The strong bond of sisters and lovers is pushed to the limits. To believe Cam’s immortality is to let her kill herself. To not believe her is to lose her. Barsotti makes the stakes high and the characters engaging. Under the direction of Jeff Christian, the talented trio deliver their lines in synchronized lyrical verse. Michaela Petro (Grace) and Casey Cunningham (Wendy) narrate their roles in what happened. The poetic narration adds to the surreality of the story. Right before our eyes, Petro spins out of control with an edgy but steady decline. Petro is poignant reacting with relatable but disconcerting helplessness. Cunningham is the sister. Cunningham is definitely in control. She plays it somewhere between big sister therapist and whatever-happened-to-baby-Jane caretaker. At the soul of it is Sasha Gioppo (Gam). Gioppo perfectly illuminates both innocence and lunacy. She begs to by believed with heart-breaking confidence. Later, she is a woman possessed as she is seduced by her demons.
Costume and Makeup Designer Aly Renee Amidei knows how to portray demons. And these guys look like their names: Paranoia, Dread, Angst, Despair. Each bad feeling is distinct, spooky and just how I visualize them. Making it sound like my worst nightmare, Sound Designers and Composers Scott Tallarida and Mikhail Fiksel fill the space with booming music. It starts in my ears and reverberates through my body. The night I saw the show the lighting design was not working correctly. It was announced a generator malfunction was interfering with the lighting plans. Guests were invited to attend another show complimentary. For me, I didn’t notice anything amiss. Although I anticipated the signature WildClaw gore-fest, Kill Me was a different kind of terror. It was more heart-tugging horrific than hair-raising horror.
Kill Me continues through March 18th at the Athenaeum Theatre, 2936 N. Southport (map), with performances Thursdays-Saturdays at 7:30pm, Sundays at 3pm. Tickets are $20-$25, and are available by phone (773-935-6860) or online OvationTix.com (check for half-price tickets at Goldstar.com). More info at WildClawTheatre.com. (Running time: 70 minutes with no intermission)
All photos by Mel Winer
Sasha Gioppo (Cam); Casey Cunningham* (Wendy); Michaela Petro* (Grace); R. Christopher Maxwell (Paranoia); Ele Matelan (Dread); Jude Roche (Angst); Matt Kahler (Despair); Carly Ciarrocchi (u/s: Cam/Wendy/Grace)
behind the scenes
Jeff Christian (director); Aly Renee Amidei* (costumes, makeup); Scott Tallarida+, Mikhail Fiksel (sound design, composition); John Wilson (set design); Julian Pike (lighting); Scott T. Barsotti* (creature concept, movement design); Anna M. K. Brenner* (stage manager); Danielle McKenzie* (production manager); Tiffany Keane (asst. stage manager); Crystal Portillo (wound effects); Charlie Athanas* (poster design); Mel Winer (photos)
* denotes WildClaw Theatre company member
+ denotes WildClaw Theatre Artistic Associate