Jackalope Theatre Presents THE LIGHT FANTASTIC Review – Old-School Horror from a New-School Playwright

When an attempted home invasion turns violent, Grace (Paloma Nozika) experiences a supernatural miracle. However, she soon learns that this gift isn't without its costs, as she enters into negotiations with a malevolent force (Andrew Burden Swanson). Ike Holter's The Light Fantastic, now receiving its world premiere at Jackalope Theatre, offers audiences a genre grab bag replete with Holter's trademark approach to dialogue. In Artistic Director Gus Menary's production, each genre gets its day in the sun (or, more aptly, night). The Light Fantastic combines elements of horror, melodrama, comedy, and suspense into an entertaining evening of theatre with some delightfully bizarre twists and turns.

Jackalope Theatre Presents a Genre Mash-Up

Moments of The Light Fantastic bring to mine tropes and conceits from a wide range of popular entertainment: fans of It Follows, The Twilight Zone, Twin Peaks, and Stranger Things will all find plenty to love in this world premiere. One thing Menary’s production nails from the get-go is a strong sense of mood, an important element shared by the aforementioned films and television shows. From Sotirios Livaditis’ scenic design to Ben Zeman’s 80s-horror projections and Steve Labedz’s pulsating soundtrack, each design choice perfectly complements Holter’s many chosen genres. A realistic depiction of the living room, dining room, front door, and porch, Livaditis’ set has just enough nooks and halls to make you wonder what’s lurking just around the corner. The front door’s prominent placement also gets plenty of mileage in this production, thanks to some fun stage magic courtesy of Brett Schneider.

Jackalope Theatre THE LIGHT FANTASTIC
Sotirios Livaditis's scenic design is engrossing and full of surprises.
Jackalope Theatre THE LIGHT FANTASTIC

The Light Fantastic Goes All In On Fun

You can tell watching The Light Fantastic that Holter must have had a blast writing it. This translates to an evening where audience members seated near you are likely to be crying out in surprise one moment and laughing at Holter’s fast-talking, barb-tongued characters the next. To be fair to the play’s talented cast, each member of the ensemble also seems to be having a ball with all of the play’s deliciously pulpy events—Brianna Buckley’s late-play monologue to a tape recorder is a hysterical departure from the play’s darker machinations, and Tommy Malouf’s charming performance as an oddball doctor is also a treat. For many, this will be enough reason to enjoy the piece, although some fans of Holter’s more substantial work may find that the play’s characters and story could be finessed to feature clearer stakes and more emotional depth. For this reviewer, such concerns were mostly quelled by the piece’s unique offering and strong production design. If you’re someone who prefers a little magic (and a little horror) with your realism, The Light Fantastic is just the ticket.

Recommended

Note: This is now added to the Picture this Post round up of BEST PLAYS IN CHICAGO, where it will remain until the end of the run. Click here to read – Top Picks for Theater in Chicago NOW – Chicago Plays PICTURE THIS POST Loves.

 

When

Through June 30
Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights at 8pm
Sunday matinees at 3pm 

Where

Broadway Armory Park
5917 N Broadway
Chicago, IL

Cast

Paloma Nozicka
Brianna Buckley
Elena Maria Cohen
Diego Colón
Janice O'Neill
Tommy Malouf
Andrew Burden Swanson

Tickets

$5 - $30

Tickets are available by visiting Jackalope Theatre's website.

Photos

Courtesy of Jackalope Theatre.

Creative

Gus Menary (director)
Ike Holter (playwright)
Sotirios Livaditis (scenic designer)
Christine Pascual (costume designer)
Lacie Hexom (props designer)
Steve LaBedz (sound/projections designer)
Slick Jorgenson (lighting designer)
William Allen (stage manager)
Corrbette Pasko (dramaturg)
Almanya Narula (fight choreographer)
Eleanor Axt* (casting director)
Brett Schneider (magic consultant)
Danielle Stack* (production manager)

Note: An excerpt of this review appears in Theatre in Chicago

Brent Ervin-Eickhoff is a director, writer, and educator based in Chicago, IL. He has worked with A Red Orchid Theatre, Silk Road Rising, Mary-Arrchie Theatre Co., Facility Theatre, and others as a director, assistant director, and in a variety of artistic capacities. Brent served as Co-Artistic Director and then Managing Director of Blue Goose Theatre Ensemble for three years, of which he was a founding member. His productions of Herculaneum and Bison? Bison. Bison! with Blue Goose were praised by critics and audiences. Bison? Bison. Bison! was selected and performed as part of Chicago’s Night Out in the Parks Initiative. An award-winning filmmaker, Brent’s films have screened as part of the Frog Baby Film Festival and Indianapolis 48 Hour Film Project. His play Puget Sound was workshopped as a staged reading as part of A Red Orchid Theatre’s Incubator Program in 2017. Brent graduated from Ball State University Magna Cum Laude with degrees in Directing and Theatre Education, as well as Ball State’s prestigious Academic Honors in Writing.
 

Read more about him and other Picture this Post writers on the Picture this Post Masthead.

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One thought on “Jackalope Theatre Presents THE LIGHT FANTASTIC Review – Old-School Horror from a New-School Playwright

  1. Hey! Thanks for the nice review. I wanted to clear up some things though, Ben Zeman did the projections and I want to make sure he gets credit. Also, the B in my name is not capitalized. Thanks!

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