This past weekend, I had the pleasure of seeing The Light Fantastic, which premiered at the Jackalope Theatre in Chicago’s Edgewater neighborhood. This work tells the story of Grace, who is back in her small hometown in rural Indiana. An unfortunate event thrusts Grace and her family into a game of survival against forces that are far from the natural.
When you walk in, the set seems to be nothing out of the ordinary. The entirety of the play takes place in a 90’s Indiana home. The set perfectly displays what one would expect in that scene, however, it’s also full of effects that mimic forces of the supernatural and terrify the audience. Members of the production team – including set designer Sotirios Livaditis, props designer Lacie Hexom, sound designer Steve LaBedz, and lighting designer Slick Jorgenson – came together to create an experience for the audience rivaling that of an actual paranormal experience.
Inside the thrilling set, a wonderful and talented ensemble of actors resided. The center of it was the character of Grace, played by Paloma Nozicka. Nozicka delivers the character of Grace with an alluring form and perfect comedic timing. At the start of the play, Grace is a stuck-up, mean girl who doesn’t care about the people around her. As the events of the play unfold and Grace begins an examination of her own life, she becomes someone the audience can empathize with. Nozicka’s performance makes the audience want to know her.
Another actor to stand out among this talented cast was Andrew Burden Swanson. Swanson represents two very different characters in the course of this play. In the interest of not giving too much away, I won’t reveal who he is. Swanson delivers both characters in such polar forms it is almost as if someone else entirely is on stage.
Writer Ike Holter created a story that is equal parts terrifying and funny. This is not a combination found that often and certainly not this well done. The constant comedic relief gives the audience a break from the frightening forces at work. Each character is given so much personality that the audience is captivated by all of their stories.
Director Gus Menary put together a show with flawless scene changes and perfect timing that is impressive. Not one actor’s presence overpowers another and every scene feels just as important as the last.
With so many choices in theaters around Chicago, it can be difficult to know what to attend.
I highly encourage you to see this production, especially if you have an interest in the dark and supernatural forces. If horror isn’t your forte, the comedic aspect will pull you through it and you won’t be sorry.
The Light Fantastic runs weekends with 8:00 p.m. on most Thursday, Fridays, and Saturdays and 3:00 p.m. shows on most Sundays through June 16th at the Jackalope Theatre, located at 5917 North Broadway, Chicago, IL 60660. For tickets visit www.jackalopetheatre.org.