Add a dash of Joyce Carol Oates style mystery to the Neo-Futurists’ regular blend of theater games, performance art and personal story telling and you’ve got a good take on their current production, Mike Mother. Not surprisingly, the title’s close parallel to Marsha Norman’s Pulitzer Prize winning play ‘night, Mother is also explored in full measure by writer-performer Jessica Anne who, simultaneously, seems to embrace and mock that popular play as she explores her own relationship with her mother here.
That relationship is surrounded by death and deception and, even though the Neo-Futurists are noted for their truthful accounting, the show’s primary strength lies in the gothic vagaries involved with this particular story. As Jessica Anne admits, with a smirk, she’s “evolved” and one is never quite sure what is fantasy or fact here – a tantalizing proposition that allows the piece to stick in your mind for days afterward.
Granted, the final moments involve a bit more self-indulgent introspection than most Neo-Futurists shows, but Jessica Anne still emerges as one of the most interesting performers in the Chicago theater scene. She is ably backed up by actor Mike Hamilton, the Mike of the title, as they explore her past and invite an audience member or two on the stage to share theirs, as well. Director Josh Matthews and scenic designer Erik Newman also contribute, grandly, with specific focus applied to the production’s centerpiece, a beautiful white bathtub, which is used to splashy effect here.
Mike Mother runs through June 4th at The Neo-Futurarium, 5153 N. Ashland in Chicago. Further information is available at www.neofuturists.org.
Until the next time – SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!