Underscore Theatre Company’s production of MY NAME IS ANNIE KING creates an atmosphere of suspense that never stops. The tone is set early and rarely gives even a moment to catch your breath. The show is billed as a “A New Bluegrass Musical Thriller.” The term “thriller” is rarely seen when describing a musical, but certainly fits in this case.
The show begins with an outsider, Lucas, encountering a religious cult in the woods. He finds himself intrigued and intertwined with the group. Through a bond with the spiritual leader of the group and a budding romance with the most beloved young female follower, Lucas decides to stay. Tensions between husbands and wives, mothers and daughters and other members of the family are always brewing below the surface. Deceptions and discoveries give way to rage and terror. It’s everything you could want in a thriller.
UNDERSCORE SETS THE SCENE
The setting is the woods. As you enter the space, you are enveloped in a mist and are surrounded by outdoor sounds. You are immediately placed into this cabin in the middle of nowhere. The scenic designer, Eric Luchen, creates a realistic setting for this story to unfold. If there was not enough terror in the story itself, the lighting designer, Erik Barry, and sound designer, Jesse Case, carefully conspire to scare even the most savvy audience member. The combination of lighting changes and jarring sounds placed in just the right place creates a welcome feeling of discomfort.
UNRELENTING PERFORMANCES FROM THE ENTIRE CAST
The entire cast succeeds at serving the story and bringing emotion to the events. Paige Daigle portrays the beloved Rosalie with a flawless fragility. At the same time, she clearly possesses an inner strength that leaves you feeling both protective and somewhat sure she will somehow take care of herself. The duality of this character is captured perfectly by Daigle.
The charismatic leader of the cult is created by Jeff Mills. The understated performance of a man constantly on the verge of exploding is something for which Mills should receive even more applause than the standing ovation he and others received.
Maeghan Looney gives a tender, yet terrifying, performance as the leader’s wife and mother to Rosalie. As the most unpredictable character, she may be the most difficult to encompass. Looney never loses sight of the journey of this woman and grips the audience until the very end.
Photos by Evan Hanover
Top Pick For: Suspense Lovers
Not recommended for: Children
Note: This is now added to the Picture this Post round up of BEST PLAYS IN CHICAGO. Click here to read — Top Picks for Theater in Chicago NOW – Chicago Plays PICTURE THIS POST Loves.
April 21 - May 28, 2017
Fridays & Saturdays 7:30PM
Saturday, May 20 at 3:00PM
Thursday, May 25 at 7:30PM
Saturday, May 27 at 3:00PM
Pride Arts Center (The Broadway)
4139 N. Broadway, Chicago
$20 - $30
Online at www.underscoretheatre.org
Note: An excerpt of this review appears in Theatre in Chicago.