The historic Irvington Lodge on E. Washington Street in Irvington lends itself well as the location for NoExit Performance’s production of “Yellow Wallpaper,” which opened Feb. 21 and continues through March 9.
Presented in collaboration with Q Artistry, a theater group that calls the Lodge its home, “Yellow Wallpaper” is directed by Ryan Mullins and features a cast that includes Julie Mauro, Matthew Goodrich, Molly Tucker and Sam Fain.
Gilman’s work is generally considered to be a feminist condemnation of the 19th century male-dominated medical establishment and its stereotypical attitudes toward women.
The story concerns Charlotte (Mauro), a woman who has been confined by her physician husband, John (Goodrich), to an upstairs bedroom in a house he has leased for the summer. Having recently given birth to their baby, Charlotte is sequestered there because John has diagnosed her as suffering from postpartum depression. Commanded to rest, Charlotte is forbidden to write and even has to hide her journal from him. Bereft of any kind of stimulation, she begins to obsess on the color and pattern of the wallpaper in her room and eventually falls into madness.
Seen Friday, “Yellow Wallpaper,” which is essentially a melodrama, was impressive for the quality of its direction and the well-crafted characterizations of its actors.
Mauro turned in a multi-dimensional performance as the beleaguered Charlotte, an obviously intelligent and strong-willed woman who is browbeaten into submission by a husband who views her independent streak as toxic behavior.
Moving from sweet and gentle to wild-eyed and out of control, Mauro was, for the most part, skillful in portraying her character’s final descent into insanity, but came dangerously close to making it a parody at the same time.
Goodrich was effective as Charlotte’s well-meaning yet rigid husband, John, who thinks he has her best interests at heart but, due to his own ego and misguided medical treatment, is the cause of her emotional unraveling in the end.
Tucker played John’s sister, Molly, who assists him in taking care of Charlotte. Sympathetic to Charlotte, her character is ultimately duplicitous in her sister-in-law’s destruction. Tucker deserves praise for the subtle nuance she brought to her role.
Fain, who is always a commanding presence on any stage, played Charlotte’s brother, Robert — her other domineering male adversary — who is also a physician and who conspires with her husband to commit her to an insane asylum for what he considers her own good.
Responsible for the sinister and foreboding quality of Charlotte’s claustrophobic environment are set designer Andy Darr and lighting designer Ryan Mullins. Zach Rosing’s video and sound design give the show its pronounced creepy factor, as does the wallpaper designed by Michael Burke. Adding authenticity to the period in which the story takes place are Ben Asaykwee’s costumes.
For tickets and information about NoExit Performance’s “Yellow Wallpaper,” call (317) 258-2255 or visit www.noexitperformance.org.
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