Dark comedy will shock the West Hall Theater this weekend with the graphic and controversial play “The Pillowman.”
While the show’s themes range from child abuse to psychological trauma, its central element largely revolves around the limits of artistic expression. Katurian, the play’s main character, is arrested when child murders in his town are similar to the events of the twisted stories he authors.
“The content is horribly dark,” senior Nick Barbara, who plays Katurian, said. “Without the energy and the jokes, [the show] would be horrible.”
To maximize the show’s emotional impact, it will be staged in the round, with the audience surrounding the actors. The small,
intimate cast – consisting of only four actors – and the black box theater space will serve to enhance the drama.
Director of the show, senior Jenna Duncan, said she proposed “The Pillowman” not only for the shock factor of its twisted plot, but also for the cathartic experience it provides audience members.
“There’s such a deep, human connection between these really twisted characters,” Duncan said. “It’s the idea that they’re complex enough where you do sympathize with them, even when they’re torturing a prisoner or writing stories about murdering children.”
Senior Sean Quitzau, who portrays a volatile and vengeance-seeking police officer, added that beyond the dark material, the show ultimately reflects upon the human experience. He said that each character “leaves his mark and leaves a piece of themselves behind.”
A faulty light board in Lisner Auditorium Downstage also moved the production to the Mount Vernon Campus’ West Hall Theater, adding another challenge on top of limited resources and the difficulty of coordinating schedules.
“I think it’s sort of something to be doubly proud of. In any setting, the show would be incredibly difficult, but I think that it’s a wonderful production, particularly considering our hindrances,” Duncan said.
“The Pillowman” will premiere at the West Hall Theater Oct. 11 at 8 p.m.