Monday, October 15, 2018

Margin Notes: Your Invisible Corset

Emily Kitchens as Lucy Westenra.
Photo by Al Foote III.
Your Invisible Corset

Seen on: Saturday, 10/13/18.
My grade: B+

Plot and Background
Bram Stoker's novel Dracula, adapted to modern day and retold through Mina's eyes: Your Invisible Corset examines the stigma surrounding assault survivors, and what self-actualization truly looks like.

What I Knew Beforehand
Only the premise (I've seen several Dracula adaptations, though I've never read the source material). And that I'd reviewed Hunger & Thirst's earlier Pericles: Born in a Tempest.


Play: Playwright and star Patricia Lynn begins the narrative in medias res (or does she?), with Mina waking in a hospital, unsure of what she remembers and what she doesn't; the play continues to unpack her broken psyche, pulling her into memories that may or may not be hallucinations, guided by her dead friend Lucy, pursued and haunted by Dracula and his servant Renfield. But all is never what it seems and the narrative further deconstructs, as Dracula seduces Mina with promises of autonomy and liberation—freeing her, as he claims, from her invisible corset—all the while tightening his grip on her mind and will. But Mina, a tenured professor and headstrong enough that no man, mystical or otherwise, can keep her shackled, is not content to be the hot potato tossed about in the duel between John Harker and Dracula, nor will she let herself be gaslit or shamed into fear and immobility. Not everything about this updated approach to the story works perfectly, but I was quite taken with the way it attacked and dismantled much of the language of rape culture and emotionally abusive relationships, drawing overt lines between Stoker's original narrative, and conversations happening every day in the public sphere.

Cast: The cast is good, despite a sometimes ponderous pacing to the action. Of particular note are the hypnotic Emily Kitchens, as a joyfully debauched Lucy; the earnest Patrick T. Horn as John Harker, a man discovering his purpose; and the haunted Patricia Lynn as Mina Murray-Harker, wresting control of her story and her power.

Design: Deceptively simple, Jordan Reeves's evocative production designa scattering of heavy wooden crates and drapes of black curtain—fluidly enables director Jacob Titus to pull off more than a few surprising tricks throughout the night, as well as allowing the always-shrouded master vampire himself full run of the space, appearing and disappearing at will, and further aligning the audience with Mina, never sure if we're seeing truth or another projected hallucination. Additionally, the marriage of Yi-Chung Chen's lighting and Randall Benichak's sound designs are both hypnotic and unnerving, ever dancing across the line between reality and nightmare.


Running: Now playing at the Flamboyan Theater at The Clemente (Hunger & Thirst Theatre) - Opening: October 14, 2018. Closing: October 27, 2018.
Category: straight play
Length: 2 hours, including intermission.

Creative Team

Playwright: Patricia Lynn
Director: Jacob Titus
Designers: Jordan Reeves (Movement and Production), Yi-Chung Chen (Lighting), Randall Benichak (Sound).
Cast: Patrick T. Horn, Patricia Lynn, Elizabeth Anne Rimar, Emily Kitchens, Lauren Lubow, Nathan Reese Edmondson

Patricia Lynn and Patrick T. Horn as Mina Murray-Harker and John Harker.
Photo by Al Foote III.

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