Monday, April 28, 2008 Review - The Skriker

"SKRIKER: The Horrible World of Faerie

Events / 4/28/2008 11:49:46 AM

Welcome our newest contributor to the dark world of Killer-articles, C.S.E. Cooney! As a huge theatre buff, writer, and performer, she was the perfect person to check out this latest Chicago play by The Greyzelda Theatre Group currently disturbing audiences.

To reach the theatre, I have to sidle past a fairy in fishnets and black feathers. She sneers. Two lights like eyes glare from the back of the stage, giving everything an eerie green glow. A trellis of ivy delineates the proscenium. It casts strange shadows.

Soon, the stage fills with visions from a fairytale that probably never made most shelves. Horse-heads and fanged pig-faces, blank angels, corpse girls and stately Green Ladies drift to the music of erratic breathing and a mournful violin.

The Dark Fairy “my fairy“ approaches a slumped bum and shrieks: "Are you dead? Are you DEAD?" Other creatures squat and cluck and click and sigh and tickle each other, creating an atmosphere both of threat and mischief.

SKRIKER, by Caryl Churchill, is a difficult script to wrest meaning from. For the first ten minutes, a monologue rambles like a nursery rhyme sung by an idiot. A dangerous idiot. As with Shakespeare, the ear needs this time to acclimate to Churchill's language, which is dense and poetic throughout but not quite as inexorably as those first ten minutes.

The Skriker, "a shape shifter and death portent," is played by Lisa Wilson. She opens the play in tattered long johns and a black cloak, moaning like a professional. Her cloak falls open, and we see she is breast-feeding a bundle of bones. This image, like her ensuing monologue, sets the tone for the rest of the play.

SKRIKER is not the horror of axes and arterial fountains. This is the horror of dark alleys, motherhood, madness and the danger of wishes. Good behavior is rewarded; bad behavior is punished. But whether you're vomiting gold coins for kissing an old hag, or vomiting dead toads for refusing to do so, the gifts of fairy burn on the way up.

The most intriguing part of this GreyZelda production is its ensemble. No matter if the scene being played is relatively normal in execution, the monsters are still looking on. There is always a girl in red shoes dancing in the shadows. Her expression is desperate: as if she knows she will only stop if both her feet are cut off.

Parts of the play do seem a bit hellish, in that you don't know when or if it will ever end. But for the most part I was captivated. There were some unexpectedly funny moments, as well as deeply creepy ones. Kathryn Daniels, playing the tough sister Josie, is grounded enough to bring Churchill's high-falutin' rants back down to earth. I particularly enjoyed Rebecca L. Mauldin's Dead Child.

I would recommend this show to adventurous and literary loonies. But remember: "Don't eat. Don't drink. Or you'll never get back!"

C.S.E. Cooney

Jill's p.s. This show runs until May 10th, for ticket and location details visit"

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