Enjoy this Monday with Mildred!
Make Me Bad
A couple of years ago I mentioned to my Horror List* that I’d never seen a play that was actually scary or creepy. The very next day I read that my season ticket to Indiana University Theatre came with a showing of The Pillowman. And yes, that filled the bill. Last night I went to the Bloomington Playwrights Project’s production of Make Me Bad. Now I can say I’ve seen two hair-raising live shows. From the BPP web site:
What happens when you fall in love with a serial killer? This gritty and sexy thriller follows the story of Daisy Harris, a young woman stuck in a small town with a dead-end job, an overbearing mother, and a troubled past. Desperate to escape but with nowhere to go, Daisy looks for anything to break the monotony of her meaningless life. She meets charming and cryptic Max, just as a string of unexplained murders rocks the town. As the community continues to be plagued by gruesome killings, the relationship formed between the two not only reveals the atrocities of Daisy’s past, but foreshadows the darkness that is to come.
Once a season BPP features a cast of local students. As we have one of the best university-level Theatre departments in the country, that generally means seeing great young talent on stage doing something way different from the classics you’ll find on campus. Make Me Bad also featured a seventh grader with an acting bio longer than some of those college students.
The stage was a shadowy, gloomy complex, part basement, part abandoned warehouse, with a box of killing tools lying casually next to a plastic sheet which we got to worry over while waiting for the play to start. Equally uncomfortable was the smoke that began to pour out as soon as the door closed us in. The air we breathed smelled…off…and the dark corners became even more uncomfortably mysterious. Beyond the stark, evil murders and the bleak backstory of abuse, there is also an element of humor. It’s infrequent, but devastatingly dark and funny.
Oh, and it’s a musical.
The songs were pretty standard (and as tends to happen at the BPP, the sound was uneven, sometimes to the point of being painfully loud). Though the composer’s career is taking off, I have to say that, as with country music, all the songs have a very similar sound to me. Philistine, I know, and I expect your mileage may vary. From a promotional e-mail:
“[Drew Gasparini (music and lyrics) has signed] a Broadway contract to write a brand new musical for Warner Bros. A week after that, the composer was offered yet another Broadway contract to pen a musical for Universal Studios (directed by Casey Nicholaw of BOOK OF MORMON). Just a couple nights ago he booked a song writing deal with Sara Bareilles.”
After the initial killings which let us know who Max is, the action slows down quite a bit in order to catch everyone up on the main character and her backstory, which is pretty horrible. Maddie Shea Baldwin plays Daisy, who wants to be good, and strong, but life seems to have a different plan for her. The mysterious Max is played by Markus McClain, and both are senior BFA students in the Musical Theatre major at IU. Once the intro is finished, the play gets ever more disturbing and tense until the final moments, which I have to say I did not see coming and which will stay with me for a while.
If you ever get a chance to see this play, I highly recommend it. There are subtleties that make you wish you could rewind and see it again, and there is one fragment of recurring song that got me punched in the arm when I sang it walking to the car afterward.
- Make Me Bad
- Bloomington Playwrights Project
- Mildred’s Horror List (See directions below*.)
- Indiana University Theatre, Drama, and Contemporary Dance
- The Pillowman
*The Horror List is an online community that discusses horror. Mildred encourages you to join and join in the lively email discussions!! To join and check it out, follow the directions on this page – LIST.INDIANA.EDU Mailing Lists – with the list name being Horror.