Talkin' Broadway


October 22, 2014

Anyone who mentions the poet Sylvia Plath and the word “oven” in the same sentence is generally not talking about her cooking skills. Thus it is with a pair of 20-something roommates struggling to find meaning in their lives in playwright Nora Sørena Casey’s disturbing dark comedy Not Afraid at Under St. Marks. Hunter (Anna Van Valin), a law student with an active social life and a plan for the future, seems to be the more grounded of the two. On the other hand, there is Bets (Taylor Shurte), who passes her days in self-confinement within the walls of their tiny Chicago apartment, blogging about death metal bands and the glories of communism. Their lives are in a delicate balance that is starting to come undone as Hunter discusses her plans for relocating to Cincinnati and a well-paying job at a law firm, while Bets is dealing with fears engendered by an anonymous online death threat. Hunter brushes off Bets’s agitated state as yet another of her friend’s dramatic overreactions, until the blood-smeared window and the dead squirrel convince her otherwise.

Theatre Is Easy


October 23, 2014

Sorry metalheads and headbangers, this is not a concert and there is no mosh pit. But, Not Afraid still offers some non-conformity to sink your teeth into. Set in a dodgy Chicago apartment, this story follows two friends who are trying to survive life, adulthood, and disappointment. The play covers a gamut of topics including metal, communism, relationships, fidelity, death, suicide, and general hypocrisy. Complete with a dark sense of humor and stage blood there is always something going on in this new play…perhaps too much. Bets (Taylor Shurte) and Hunter (Anna Van Valin) are long time roommates who are completely in sync. They know each others’ quirks, habits, likes, dislikes, and have no problem speaking with unbridled honesty. Yet, they could not be any more different from each other. Bets is a metalhead and devout communist who writes a blog about death metal, politics and, well, death. She has taken it upon herself to rebel against the capitalist system even though she depends on her grandma’s inheritance and her parents’ money to survive. Hunter is a law student who shamelessly admits to her capitalist goals to make as much money as she can get her hands on. Despite her law background, Hunter fails to follow any conventional rules regarding her relationship with Robbie (David Register) or any aspect of her personal life for that matter.


October 28, 2014

If she’d wanted an apron to match her Anthrax T-shirt, she could have gotten it from that band’s official merchandise site: a black cotton number, meant for use at the barbecue grill. But baking is more Bets’s style, and when she takes a break from her death-metal blog to whip up a batch of calzones, she wraps herself in a sweet, girly apron decorated in polka dots and roses. In Nora Sorena Casey’s Not Afraid, having its premiere in a PowerOut production at Under St. Marks, Bets (an impressive Taylor Shurte) is a post-collegiate waif with dark-rimmed eyes and a widow’s peak. Though she spends most of her time at her laptop, obsessing over bands with names like Napalm Death and Deathbound, there is a charming ebullience to her passion. It might be healthy, however, if she would occasionally leave the house. “Your world is tiny, and it’s all in your brain,” says her roommate, Hunter (Anna Van Valin), a beer-swilling law student, and that’s truer than she knows.