Three lost women. One embraces it, one denies it, and one leans into it.
In their first show since the pandemic, Exiled Theatre presented Hauntings I Have Lived Through, a trilogy thriller that took place live and in person at Boston Playwrights Theatre in Boston, Massachusetts through Sunday, November 19. Written and directed by James Wilkinson, the show was 80 minutes without an intermission. Click here for more information on future performances.
The set, which included a water pitcher and empty glass on a wooden desk sitting on top of a colorful Egyptian rug, is simply staged but each character handles the set differently. The harp-laden, eerie music fits the ominous aura between scenes.
Hauntings I Have Lived Through may hint at a collection of ghost stories especially since it was delivered just after Halloween, but this is not entirely the case. Three separate women recall enduring unique types of trauma. However, coping with occasional moments of dark humor, their reactions are relatable even in the darkest of circumstances.
In The Hanging Tree, an increasing anxious and somewhat disheveled woman approaches the desk. She admits to coming off a tough breakup, though the breakup is mostly incidental to the show’s real story. The real story develops from an offhanded remark about a mysterious Sycamore tree in her woodsy backyard of a house she is becoming increasingly uncomfortable residing in. With darting eyes, increasingly shaking hands, and a pale and stricken expression as she utters the anxiety laden yet humorous remark, ‘Pause for effect’ is effective as a rare light in Alex Alexander’s character’s bleak testimony before veering into an unpredictable direction.
Morganna Becker’s character has been through a lot, but her frank, sarcastic and chatty tone hints of denial as she recalls a macabre event in the show’s second part, Nora (All Over). This chapter is a bit muddled and at times difficult to follow, but there is no denying that this woman has also been through defining trauma. As Becker recounts her story as if incidentally recalling the difficulties of a typically tough day, there is a fear behind her engaging, yet guarded demeanor. This story is particularly graphic and gory while Becker takes it in as if she is a spectator in her own life. Her subtle fear keeps her sympathetic as if she will at any minute grasp the gravity of what she has experienced.
The finale, The Dark Lady Gospels, delves into experienced trauma, but does not seem to belong with the other parts of the trilogy. Laura Crook Waxdal delivers a strong performance as a twisted evangelist, but this compassionate woman does not practice what she preaches. This part seems more parlor trick and diatribe than what could have been a meaty exploration into this complicated and abandoned woman’s character. Perhaps her practices are a veiled attempt to cope with trauma, but even so, what she preaches seems beside the point and bereft of hope. As a woman with a considerable amount to live for, it does not fit squarely into the show’s premise and gradually strays too far from its focus hinging more on fear than exploration.
Exiled Theatre presented Hauntings I Have Lived Through, a trilogy thriller that took place live and in person at Boston Playwrights Theatre in Boston, Massachusetts through Sunday, November 19. Written and directed by James Wilkinson, the show was 80 minutes without an intermission. Click here for more information on future performances.