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Theater Tue Oct 16 2012

Review: Red Tape Theater's The Skriker

TheSkriker-1.jpg

The ensemble of Red Tape Theatre's production of THE SKRIKER by Caryl Churchill, directed by Eric Hoff. Photo by Austin D. Oie.

The Skriker is an unsuccessful mish-mash of alleged horror, suspense and audience para-interactivity. A run time of 115 minutes (over the stated 90 minutes), Red Tape's interpretation and prop add-ons weigh the production down to nonsensical tedium.

The plot centers around an ancient Celtic troll/spirit/fairy/something, paranormal and evil (it's never quite clear what she begins as that transforms into different people and things). This paranormal thing gloms onto Lily and Josie, two lower-class London teenage moms, and manages to seduce, entrap and turn the girls against one another. The Skriker's speech vacillates between fragmented Celt and '60s East End Cockney.

In Red Tape's production, I couldn't tell if The Skriker is an English horror/suspense and otherwordly possession story in the vein of Hammer Films productions, or an allegory/political commentary on working class poverty and post-natal psychosis.

In its original incarnation, The Skriker is presented on the traditional stage venue. Red Tape reconfigures The Skriker in promenade, turning the theatrical experience into a "Garden Walk in Hell" -- a very narrow and dark space, and the addition of strobe lights and smoke machines make for a very uncomfortable evening at the theater. I spent the play trying not to run into actors, props and audience members and looking for a place to sit down, because I was tired, bored and eventually angry at such a useless production.

Red Tape is known for taking on and reinterpreting eclectic (meaning weird) material and changing things up. Way, way, way, out of their league with The Skriker, a play I'd much rather see as the playwright originally intended it. The ensemble hangs in there and does their job, but they're stuck in a production that sucks. Red Tape needs to chill with the circuses and leave the "eclectic" reinterpretation to the professionals.

The Skriker runs through Oct. 20 at Red Tape Theatre, 621 W. Belmont Ave. Tickets are $25.

 
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