Windy City Media Group Frontpage News
Celebrating 30 Years of Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Trans News
home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2017-07-26
About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage



by Jonathan Abarbanel, Windy City Times

facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

Playwright: Lauren Yee. At: Steep Theatre, 1115 W. Berwyn. Tickets: 773-649-3186;; $25-$35. Runs through: May 27

Playwright Lauren Yee unquestionably creates energetic and imaginative fantasy theater.

With two plays currently onstage in Chicago ( Goodman Theatre's King of the Yees is the other ), it's clear that she's a master of meta-theatrical devices and show biz razzle-dazzle. Folks tired of mainstream realistic drama will find refreshment in Yee's exuberant plays. That she has something to say is an even better recommendation, although it oddly is a stumbling block in Hookman.

The problem is that Yee bills Hookman as "an existential slasher comedy," derived from the urban legend of a hook-handed serial killer who pursues couples in Lovers Lane, or pops up in the backseat of a car. The idea is perfect for a creepy theatrical take-off on slasher movies, which is precisely what Steep Theatre and director Vanessa Stalling deliver in this well-crafted production.

However, the flippant, self-referencing style is in contrast to—even in conflict with—the play's deeply serious actual story about guilt and grief. It's as if Yee—still in her 20s when she wrote Hookman and only 32 now—felt she could not write a serious play about such a serious subject. The result is a possible disconnect between what an audience expects the play to be ( especially those who've seen King of the Yees ) and what it actually is.

Lexi ( oh-so-vulnerable Kiayla Ryann ), 17, is a college freshman. On spring break she gets together with gal pal Jess ( the versatile Karen Isabel Rodriguez ), who is killed in a car accident with Lexi at the wheel when a drunk driver hits them. The 85-minute play returns Lexi to school, where she deals with vapidly weird dorm mates, fallout from a sexual encounter that may have been rape and her mother constantly calling her. Also, she repeatedly replays the crash and her final conversation with Jess, including a mocking discussion of Hookman. In Lexi's fevered state, all people and events distort into deceptive and threatening encounters, dripping with menstrual blood, haunted by Hookman and punctuated by the shock visual and aural effects of horror films. At the play's end, Lexi recalls an important detail of the accident that she's repressed. It serves as an exclamation point to all that's gone before, and it's anything but comedic.

The cast is first-rate, with fine, drily hilarious support from Aja Wiltshire and Sasha Smith as the self-absorbed dorm mates and James Doherty as assorted males, but the tech/design team is the star: Arnel Sancianco ( scenic ), Pete Dully ( lighting ), Mieka van der Ploeg ( costumes ), Eleanor Kahn ( props ), Mark Comiskey ( projections/video ) and Jon Beal ( violence/gore ). Jeffrey Levin's award-worthy sound design and original music ascend the heights of shock and shlock, reminding us how important aural elements can be in theater.

facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.


Gay News

SCOTTISH PLAY SCOTT riot grrrl rewind 2017-07-26 - The About Face Youth Theatre Ensemble is ready to rock with Brave Like Them. The world-premiere play with punk music explores the pluses ...

Gay News

THEATER REVIEW Black! 2017-07-26 - Playwright: Michael Washington Brown. At: Athenaeum Theatre Productions at the Atheneaum, 2936 N. Southport Ave. Tickets: $25. Runs through: Through July 30 ...

Gay News

THEATER REVIEW Megastasis 2017-07-26 - Playwright: Kia Corthron. At: Eclipse Theatre Company at the Athenaeum, 2936 N. Southport Ave. Tickets: $30. Runs through: Aug. 20 If ...

Gay News

THEATER REVIEW Little Fish 2017-07-26 - Playwright: Michael John LaChiusa ( book, music & lyrics ). At: Kokandy Productions, Theatre Wit, 1229 W. Belmont Ave. Tickets: 773-975-8150;; $33-$38. ...

Gay News

THEATER Critics' Picks 2017-07-26 - Hir, Steppenwolf Theatre, through Aug. 20. It's hard to like the characters in Taylor Mac's darkly distorted family sitcom, but only a joker ...

Gay News

THEATER SPOTLIGHT Play it Again, Sam. 2017-07-26 - The young drag-theater collective Sadhaus finds inspiration from the classic 1942 Hollywood film Casablanca for its limited run of Play it Again, Sam: ...

Gay News

THEATER REVIEW Cirque du Soleil's Luzia 2017-07-26 - Playwright: Daniele Finzi Pasca. At: Big Top, United Center Parking Lot K, 1901 W. Madison St. Tickets: 877-924-7783 or; $35 and up. ...

Gay News

MUSIC Drag artist celebrates life in 'I Was Born This Way' 2017-07-26 - Drag artist VIZIN ( pronounced V-I-S-I-O-N ) may have covered "I Was Born This Way," but it is not the Lady Gaga song. ...

Gay News

MOVIES Jane Fonda adding film-festival honor to accolades 2017-07-26 - Actress and activist Jane Fonda has been in the movie business for more than 50 years and will be receiving the Chicago International ...

Gay News

Firebrand names managing director 2017-07-26 - Firebrand Theatre—said to be the first musical-theater company committed to employing and empowering women by expanding opportunities on and off the stage—has announced ...


Copyright © 2017 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.








About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage

About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Subscriptions      Distribution      Windy City Queercast     
Queercast Archives      Advertising  Rates      Deadlines      Advanced Search     
Press  Releases      Event Photos      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Post an Event      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Blogs      Spotlight  Video     
Classifieds      Real Estate      Place a  Classified     

Windy City Media Group produces Windy City Queercast, & publishes Windy City Times,
The Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community,
Nightspots, Out! Resource Guide, and Identity.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.