Theatre Y THE GHOUL EXHIBITION Review – A Stunning Play About Inescapable Terror

Theatre Y Commissions THE GHOUL EXHIBITION

Everyday stories of gun violence still make the front page of the news. This is the basis for Theatre Y’s production of THE GHOUL EXHIBITION. Originally created for Theatre Y and produced in New York, this one man show stars Héctor Álvarez. Theatre Y commissioned this play from Álvarez who created this work by putting together pre-written and original works.

Five Short Plays Rolled Into One

The show starts with Álvarez popping up from the back of the audience trying to catch a buzzing mosquito. He continues down through the audience telling a story of animosity in the gun-wielding animal kingdom - how one group hates another, who hates another, who hates another, all trying to secure their legacy. It sets the somber tone for the show.

The next story allows us to envision what life might be like for a student who is Muslim and also gay. The next, a chilling visual of fifty apples on stage each depicting a different shooting in history - ranging from Alexander Hamilton to the most recent shootings in Chicago.

Héctor Álvarez acts in Orangutans Don't Kill Photo: Courtesy of Theatre Y

These are followed by a critique of police violence and racial inequalities as a Hispanic lawyer defends a white cop charged with the murder of a black teenager. Finally, the last play gives some hope. A tale of a grade school teacher with class pets inexplicably dying, until the miraculous appearance of a hamster at the end.

Héctor Álvarez acts in 50 Guns Photo: Courtesy of Theatre Y

GHOUL EXHIBITION is inspired by real life

After the show, Álvarez and director Melissa Lorraine sit down with the audience to discuss the show. They revealed some of their stories draw inspiration from news stories and recent events. Others they imagine. Some like the story of the Muslim teenager, rings eerily similar to the Orlando nightclub shooting even though this story was written before that terrible event.

However, it is the 50 Guns (adapted from Alex Broun's work) that hits close to home. Álvarez wrote this play to detail historical deaths as well as more recent ones that have been headline news for Chicago. Each apple he picks up off the stage represents a death until he has collected all fifty. These are deaths that happened in a neighborhood in Chicago. They are a wake up call for those who don’t realize the violence happening right in their own city.


Héctor Álvarez’ Poignant Performance

Héctor himself is a brilliant actor able to portray five different personalities in these five different stories - an animal, a marginalized student, a historian, a lawyer, a teacher.

But the most poignant part of all these is the storyteller. In each of these voices Álvarez plays, he is telling their stories. He digs deep to find the heart of these characters. Their anger, their vulnerability, their strangeness.

It makes us think more deeply about how much power a person wielding a gun has. The play couldn’t have come at a more necessary point in time, especially given the recent repeal of a protective gun law.

It calls into question the future of gun-control and the consequences that could come. The GHOUL EXHIBITION is needed in these times of crisis because it is an art form critiquing today’s culture. It is activism theatre at its finest.

Héctor Álvarez acts in Like an Apple Tree Photo: Courtesy of Theatre Y

Talking about gun violence rarely is comfortable. The GHOUL EXHIBITION will push you to the brink of being uncomfortable. It is intense and in your face. It doesn’t hide anything, but is filled with symbolism that makes you dig deep to find the meaning. It offers a deeper look into the feelings of people in different situations. It brings hope that someday these tragedies will end.



February 9th, 16th, 23rd


The Prop Theater
3502-04 N. Elston Avenue
Chicago, IL 60618


Available at


Courtesy of Theatre Y

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