Audience Annihilated Part 2 — The Gold Star Sticker: It’s Very Dark in Here 

Monday, October 20, 2014 Permalink

get-attachmentReviewed by Tom Lawler

Dream Theatre Company presents AUDIENCE ANNIHILATED PART 2: THE GOLD STAR STICKER. Brilliantly blurring the lines between a haunted house, multimedia art installation and most of all, a riveting, risky theatrical work, AUDIENCE ANNIHILATED… will surely creep you out for every one of its 15 minutes.

Your journey begins on the sidewalk on a sleepy stretch of Lincoln Avenue as you wait for your time to enter the Dream Laboratory theater. Anticipation builds as a woman dressed like a tattered Raggedy Ann noses you into the space and tells you where to sit. If you spring a little extra (and you absolutely should) you’ll be playing one of the “Little Princess” parts and sitting dangerously close to the action. If you’re not feeling as bold, just be a “Babysitter” and sit a little further back.

Fortunately, things don’t kick off right away because the very filthy, lived-in set (crafted with imagination by Anna W Menekseoglu who also designed the costumes and props) takes some time to absorb. It’s dark, but you can see enough. The people who live here aren’t well, and they’re talking to you as if you’re member of the family. You could easily spend 15 minutes alone in this room trying to imagine the kind of people who live here.

Think about a time you visited someone’s home and knew something wasn’t quite right. Maybe it was the shouting from upstairs. Or the father, seething in front of the TV as he drank his beer. Or the stains on the wall. You felt bad for your friend, but you wanted to leave as soon as you could.   

But this is now your home, too, and you can’t leave. Mother (Nicole Roberts) is pissed at you, and her boyfriend, Guitar (a disgusting Jeremy Menekseoglu, who also composed this symphony of skeev) is getting so close you can almost smell his beer breath, reminding you exactly how dangerous live theater can be when you don’t know where it’s going or what the rules are. Nose (Amanda Lynn Meyer) then rolls in and introduces some Lynchian strangeness to the mix. I’d better not reveal much more. 

AUDIENCE ANNIHILATED…collapses all space between performer and audience, so you don’t feel like you’re watching a story, but actually living inside this pitch-black world of violence, abuse and broken toys. You will never catch this utterly-committed cast “acting,” and you can’t help but go for the full ride as this creative team expertly uses mood, space, darkness and sounds to create thrilling, disturbing theater all around you. (Madelaine Schmitt’s heart-breaking voice work will also stay with you.)

By the end of our your journey as you’re dumped safely back on Lincoln Avenue and you inspect the gold star on your wrist, you’re not quite sure what you saw, how they did it and what it all meant. But you do know how it made you feel, and you’re very glad not to be in that room anymore with those people. 

Running Time: 15 minutes.

At Dream Laboratory, 5026 N. Lincoln Ave

Created by Jeremy Menekseoglu

Lights and sound by Ellen Cullen

Fridays-Sundays at 8, 8:30, 9:00, 9:30

Through November 2

Note: Due to very limited seating capacity, it’s highly recommended to buy tickets online in advance at http://www.dreamtheatrecompany.com/. (Tip: Buy one of the “Little Princess” tickets.)

For more reviews and information on Chicago theatre, visit Theatre in Chicago.

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