Trap Door Theatre Presents THE LOCKETEER Review – Cerebral Load Made Playful

Trap Door Theatre THE LOCKETEER
Trap Door Theatre THE LOCKETEER Photo: Chris Popio

The Trap Door Theatre Experience

Entering the itsy lobby of Trap Door Theatre for a pre-show linger and then moving beyond the plush curtain when the house opens may remind of Frank Lloyd Wright’s formula of using compression to snap your head into attention in a new space. One of the smaller theater spaces around town, the performance space somehow feels bigger, and combined with Trap Door Theatre’s nearing three decades of staging wisdom, makes a hospitable space for the physical antics of the talented 10 actor cast of THE LOCKETEER.

Trap Door Theatre THE LOCKETEER
Photo: Chris Popio
Trap Door Theatre THE LOCKETEER
Photo: Chris Popio

This physicality and expressiveness of this cast of ten (Dennis Bisto, Abby Blankenship, Marzena Bukowska, Holly Cerney, Sami Ismat, Emily Lotspeich, Joan Nahid, Zachary Nichol, Keith Surney, and Bob Wilson) under the superb direction of Catherine Sullivan IS what gives THE LOCKETEER its considerable draw. They each move from role to role and back and forth to ensemble with little more than a swap of kerchief for hat— often using just their voice and posture to be a boy or man, as the dialogue requires. When they are in the backdrop of the action, with eye rolls or bulges, or pouts or grimaces they become a sort of Greek Chorus, telegraphing the content of upstage lines.

While all superb, this writer was especially glued to Marzena Bukowska who at times seemed to be showing us what it looks like to fight indigestion from a pudding made especially for her by extraterrestrial demons.

The actors’ frolicking skates upon a pond of philosophy pounded into this script by Nobel Prize -winning playwright, the late Elias Canetti. His beat is power dynamics and in THE LOCKETEER he gives us a deep dive into how humans are conditioned into conformity. The story happens in a world where every newborn is given a locket inscribed with the dates of both their birth and death. Many of the characters are named with their life expectancy. It’s always been that way and any suggestion of changing it is met with appreciation for the pros of this system- like knowing just how much time you have to do what you want to do in life. Much as in our world wars are fought over protein, gold, water and such, in THE LOCKETEER world there are those who connive to steal the better lockets to improve their end date.

Scripts don’t get much more conceptual and cerebral than this, with the collateral effect of it being open to idiosyncratic interpretation. This writer was astounded when a character referred to “S…holes” and felt a chilly wind sweeping into the theater all the way from Davos, Switzerland where many of today’s Masters of the Universe are allegedly charting our better tomorrow. Was that really in the original script?

If you love scripts that are heavy philosophical explorations, it’s difficult to bring to mind any play—even recent ones at Trap Door—that will equally sate that appetite.  For those of us who normally prefer works that engage first on an emotional level THE LOCKETEER is a nice walk on the other side of the street, albeit with a wordy friend who lives in their head. From this writer’s viewpoint, nearly everyone will adore the playful spirit informing the performances.


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.


Thru March 3

Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays at 8 PM



Trap Door Theatre
1655 West Cortland




For tickets call 773 384 0494 or visit the Trap Door Theatre website

All photos: Chris Popio


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

Co-Publishers Amy Munice and Peter Kachergis

About the Author:  Amy Munice

Amy Munice is Co-Publisher and Editor of Picture This Post.  As Editor, she is the keeper of the Picture This Writers' Guidelines. 

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

Click here to read more Picture this Post articles by Amy Munice

And, click here for  Travel Stories by Amy Munice with Photography by Peter Kachergis

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