Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Hookman @ Western Stage 2X4

Hookman: At the Western Stage 2X4 BASH

Lauren Yee’s “The Hookman” begins with UCONN student named Lexi (A magnetic Niki Moon) on a Winter Break cut tragically short with the accidental death of her best friend. She is haunted by the image of the dreaded “hookman” of Urban Legend and finds herself in an existential crisis as the madman seems to be stalking her and her college friends. The darkly comic script is often vicious in cutting dialogue. Our main character is not the sympathetic “final girl” most often portrayed in these stories as she is incredibly self-obsessed, arrogant, and dismissive of others. It’s really only her fear of the Hookman himself that humanizes her throughout the existential crisis of the play.

The play features some warning with regards to the adult content; stark and uneasy conversations regarding rape and social politics, drug use, alcoholism, and  sexuality. We explore the deeper changes of an individual when they leave their home and embark on a new life in a distant college, the changes that take place when she returns home, and that early rejection of who one “used to be” as if it were trade up of who they “want to be”. There are some gore effects, but the play seems hesitant to play on the horror aspects of these moments and quickly hides any real effects and barely embraces the blood the story seems to be relying on.

Performances are extremely good with the stand out manic energy of Chelsea Palmer (as Chloe) driving some hilarious moments of conversational confusion. Micaela David delivers a natural performance as Jess that slowly builds throughout the course of the play, delivering a stunning duo performance with Moon on a specific monologue/duologue(?) that I won’t spoil here. It is bloody marvelous, however. And the Hookman himself is an imposing presence, prancing with psychotic glee as he stalks the cast.

4 out of 5.