photo credit: Jessica Peralta
Written by Patrick Chavis
Stephen King is one of today’s most prolific and successful horror writers. His influence on pop culture, film, television, and even theatre, is undeniable regardless of whether you enjoy his work. Despite a vast catalog of work, Misery stands out as a high watermark in suspense and drama. Misery is not a play you can take lightly. It’s incredibly challenging material, especially as related to the lead role of Annie Wilkes (Alli Maier). There are echoes of greatness in this production, but it ultimately settles for good with a performance that lacks the intensity this character sorely needs.
Misery is about a famous writer Paul Sheldon (Mark Coyan), known for his book series Misery, a romance novel about a character named Misery Chastain. Caught in a winter storm in Colorado, Paul has a horrific car accident and finds himself in the care of his self-appointed biggest fan Annie Wilkes (Alli Maier). What at first seems to be a somewhat overzealous fan is, in reality, a dangerous twisted individual that will do almost anything to get what she wants.
William Goldman hit a home run in the early 90s with the screenplay for Misery. Kathy Bates, the lead, won an Oscar for the role, and the character undoubtedly inspired not only actors but genres of film and storytelling since its release. Goldman also penned the play, and Misery‘s story elements are ideally suited for theatre. This adaption doesn’t feel forced at all. Honestly, it’s surprising this wasn’t a play first. The play is mostly psychological. There’s a lot of dialogue, and the story stays mostly in one location. The writing in this show is iconic. The challenge here is living up to this material.
It’s a bedroom set with a single bed and a wall full of creepy-looking dolls and old-fashioned-looking wallpaper. I loved, loved how they utilized the big window in this show. Instead of the window being a way to show the passing of time or setting the scenes, some of the action actually took place outside the window and was done so tastefully. The use of lighting to block off scenes created some seamless transitions.
This play is double cast, and I watched the performance from Cast A. This whole play has only three actors, and the majority of the play and dialogue goes to the lead, Annie Wilkes. You need a strong actor, and the director needs a good idea of presenting the character effectively on stage. This was a good performance from Alli Maier, but she’s a character of contrasts. It’s 0 to 100 with this character and very little in the middle. Maiers’s portrayal was tamer than I would expect.
Mark Coyan was a phenomenal Paul Sheldon. He understands the character, and he expresses it well on stage. No notes.
The cherry on top of this show, and what takes it from a good show to a very good show, is the excellent effects work this theatre implements, as it is known for in many of its productions. In the case of this production, it was the firearm work and the use of the sledgehammer. It was beautifully done.
Fans of the film and classic suspense, this is your ticket.
Story9Acting8Set & Design8Costumes8.5Entertainment8.5
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Very Good Show! OCR Recommended!
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Jan 20 – Feb 26, 2023.