Faith and the Supernatural
Jackalope Theatre’s world premiere production of The Snare, written by Samantha Beach , tells the story of Ruth (Caroline Heffernan), a mild mannered eighth grader hoping to be the captain of her basketball team who’d rather spend time with her hip podcasting babysitter than her mother, Abigail (Cyd Blakewell). When Ruth starts hearing the devil speak to her, Abigail’s new position as pastor is tested in this coming-of-age play about faith and belief.
Characters in The Snare grounded in reality
A likable cast and authentically written dialogue render The Snare’s characters believably. Beach has an ear for conversation, and her characters are portrayed honestly by an ensemble unafraid of their flaws. Ashley Woods’ scenic design heightens the reality of the setting. The Snare’s set provides audiences with a window into a typical home, complete with a chalkboard calendar in the kitchen and trophies neatly lining a carefully curated bookcase. These details illustrate the suburban order of this family’s life, which is completely turned on its head when Ruth starts hearing voices.
As Abigal, Cyd Blakewell shines as a woman struggling to balance her career, family, and faith. Blakewell’s earnestness is effortless, further heightening her character’s believability. Likewise, Caroline Heffernan captures the angst of an intelligent and driven young girl starting to question what motivates her decision-making. The cast is rounded out by work from Sam Blin as Ruth’s older brother, Caleb, Joel Ewing as her father, David, and Paloma Nozicka as her babysitter, Sloane. Blin gives a wonderfully grounded turn as Caleb, working well off of the rest of the actors. His performance, like the others’, adds some humor to his character through its sincerity.
Jackalope Theatre production a mixture of genres
The Snare features strong work from both cast and design team, and Beach shows skill as a playwright. Jackalope’s production straddles a variety of genres. Tonally, The Snare veers between supernatural horror, coming-of-age family drama, and comedy, and while the cast handles these curveballs admirably, from a narrative perspective, it can be hard to catch your bearings.
As the play continues, however, it becomes easier to settle into the ups and downs of the story. Much of this lies in the inventiveness of the way that Woods’ scenic design works with director Elana Boulos’ staging. A desk and chairs off of the living room quickly transform into a car, and the dining room table seamlessly melds into the bleachers of a basketball court. These choices effectively establish setting and help orient the story.
Several standout moments
The Snare features several standout supernatural moments, as well as some poignant conversations about the intersection of faith and child rearing. With a strong cast, there is much to like in Jackalope Theatre’s production. From a book falling off the shelf to the yowls of a mysterious cat outside, Beach’s script has some eerie moments that draw you in.
Note: An excerpt of this review appears in Theatre in Chicago.
The Snare runs through April 1st. Performances are Thursdays – Saturdays at 8:00pm, and Sundays at 3:00pm
Broadway Armory Park, 5917 N Broadway in Chicago
Tickets range $5 - $25 and can be bought online at jackalopetheatre.org
All photos by Joel Maisonet.