Very Still and Hard to See spooky doings in a haunted hotel | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

Very Still and Hard to See spooky doings in a haunted hotel 

Exit 63 Productions' debut is more atmospheric than interesting.

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courtesy Exit 63 Productions

It feels a little odd walking out of the May weather and into the macabre Halloween-season atmosphere of Exit 63 Productions' debut show. But why should the sinister be confined to a single time of year? That's certainly not the way things work in real life.

Steve Yockey's 2012 Very Still and Hard to See is a cycle of short plays dealing with the uncanny. In the first vignette, a big-time architect named Buck Mason (Scott Olson) falls into a sinkhole near his latest commission, a hotel on which construction has just begun. At the bottom of the hole he finds a creature (Chelsea Turner) who gives him a satanic laugh and demands that he move the hotel's footprint, apparently to render it more demon-accessible. In return, she promises to fulfill his deepest, darkest, most perverse wish. Since the alternative is immediate death, he agrees. The next few episodes chronicle various malign doings in the now-haunted hotel, followed by a reckoning for Buck.

Yockey missed an opportunity, I'd say, by using Buck as a bookend rather than a subject. There's a fascinating play in the notion of a man forced to accept the secret desire he would and should most like to repress. As things stand, the show is more atmospheric than interesting—a sexy, occasionally comic Night Gallery-esque anthology, well directed by Connor Baty and nicely performed by a cast of eight. The most engaging passage has the least to do with anything: a monologue featuring Manuela Rentea as a charming lady who really, really hates her husband.   v


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