Review | The Skriker: Churchillian theatricality

Fortune’s Fool Theatre, through April 22

Hayley Sisler, Gabrielle Dominique and Ariel Leaf in THE SKRIKER. Photo by Leah Edelman-Brier and Phen Grant.

Newness: a relatively new (to me anyhow) theater, Fortune’s Fool. FF has done a half dozen plays, plays by Dan Pinkerton, Kira Obolensky, etc. Now they are performing a newish (well, seldom produced in any event) play by the great British playwright, Caryl Churchill. The Skriker (Fortune’s Fool Theatre, through April 22). Done in a new space in Nordeast: the Crane Theater. My kind of deal: funky, dusty, slightly creepy – and highly theatrical. Delicious.

The Skriker is dense, imagistic, language focused and difficult to summarize. The Skriker is a shapeshifter, at once an old soul but played (by Ariel Leaf) with compelling newborn energy. She takes and holds the stage, mesmerizingly.

And she gloms onto two characters, Lily (who appears to be about 10 1/2 months pregnant; later in the play she in fact gives birth) and Lily’s partner Josie. Sexual partner? Maybe. The play is vague on this subject. At least I found it vague. She causes Lily and Josie to change, become something else. Wonderful.

Swirling around these principals are a dozen or so supporting characters, with names like Green Lady, Black Dog, Girl With Telescope, Man With Bucket, Johnny Squarefoot, etc. They add theatrical richness, though it’s hard to see how they drive the story, such as it is, of The Skriker. It seemed to me that the production was under-rehearsed. If you go, I might suggest giving the show a week or so, to age.

As the Shriker, Leaf does excellent work. She’s energized and focused and keeps the play on track. Nice work is also done by the other two principals, Haley Sisler as Lily and Gabrielle Dominique as Josie.

But there’s a problem (or there was in the show I saw) and it has to do with the overuse of the Crane Theatre. There was another play being performed (it wasn’t a rehearsal; you could hear the audience) and the sound of it filled The Skriker space. I tried to ignore it. I often succeeded. Then I tried to pretend that it was part of The Skriker‘s mise en scène. But ultimately, I found the noise fatally distracting. Too bad, as this is rich and wonderful stuff. Maybe it won’t be an issue when you see the play. Which you should do.

John Olive is a writer living in Minneapolis. His book, Tell Me A Story In The Dark, about the magic of bedtime stories, has been published. Please visit John’s informational website.

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