â€œMercuryâ€ is a Twisted Look into Revenge, and We Canâ€™t Look Away
Posted On April 21, 2019
Review by Liz Eichler of â€œMercuryâ€: Know Theatre
Steve Yockeyâ€™s plays are kaleidoscopic â€“ a slight turn, an imperceptible twist makes all the difference. He takes simple concepts and twists them with love and magic, so we see them anew. In Know Theatreâ€™s production of â€œMercuryâ€ the stars align, making â€œMercuryâ€ a must-see this spring.
â€œMercuryâ€ is a dark comedy about some ordinary yet nasty people, seeking revenge for the wrongs theyâ€™ve brought upon themselves. They keep looking to go backward in time, to be in retrograde. Know Theatreâ€™s production has gathered a strong ensemble of actors who get the most out of a simple move, an eyebrow lift, a look, to delve deeper into these beings. Director, Scenic and Lighting Designer Andrew J Hungerford, again provides the perfect backdrop in set, lighting and projections for these powerful emotions, and guides them on their journey through the deliciously dark script. The turntable stage smoothly transitions from one suburban kitchenette, to a curiosity shop, to the living room of a duplex.
We first meet Pamela (Robyn Novak) and Heather (Elizabeth Chinn Molloy), two frustrated housewives who live next door to each other, whoâ€™ve been in the process of redefining their relationship. Molloy is a great foil and has one of the creepiest scenes where her sweetness is transformed into something disturbing. Novak owns the stage, deftly knowing when to have the mask of sarcasm, when to show the vulnerability and hurt.
We also meet the saccharin and nosy Olive (the amazing Eileen Ernst) and discover her unrequited love for neighbor Nick (James Creque) whoâ€™s partner Brian (Andrew Ian Adams) is petulant and missing his old life in the city, which didnâ€™t include bears.
Finally, thereâ€™sÂ SamÂ (Patrick Earl Phillips)Â and AliciaÂ (Tess Talbot), whoâ€™ve been dating for, like,Â over a hundred years, and still no ring. Â Their complicated relationship makes them seeÂ red, however, their arguments areÂ juxtaposed withÂ hilarious work-a-dayÂ conversations. Â Very clever writing. Â Samâ€™s unusual work uniform shows off Phillipsâ€™ physique,Â (kudos to costumerÂ NoelleÂ Wedig-Johnston).Â Talbot shows her range from a sweet shop girl to someone who can stare down the devil.Â
Each person has anger issues. Some direct that anger to a significant other, others focus on their neighbor. Each has made sacrifices; none have gotten what they think they deserve. Perhaps each is â€œdesigned so you canâ€™t touch them,â€ as Pamela describes her cacti. Perhaps they feel â€œwhen someone hurts you, you have to put that hurt somewhere else,â€ but that hurt still darkens the soul, and canâ€™t be hidden by a sunny disposition.
TheÂ women in this show are especially strong;Â the play demands it and the actors deliver.Â Ernst has become one of theÂ areaâ€™sÂ strongest physical comicsÂ whoÂ really knows how long to stretch her silence,Â when to let her limbs run amok, and when toÂ show she is in control.Â Novak commands the stage in her debut.Â TalbotÂ isÂ an amazing chameleon.Â Molloy was so interesting in a non-speaking role inÂ â€œSuperTrueâ€, itâ€™s a joy to hear her speak.Â Under the guidance of AJH, the ladies and the men captureÂ Yockeyâ€™sdark magic. Â â€œThese are the monsters around us and inside of usâ€¦in difficult truthsâ€¦in times of change,â€ from AJHâ€™s notes ofÂ the season.
This is the perfect R-rated theatre date. Funny, scary, interesting, unusual, bloody, and really really good. â€œMercuryâ€ plays through May 11, the final performance in their 21st season â€œFear Itself.â€ Get tickets at 513-300-KNOW or knowtheatre.com.