Closet Land
Redrum at Fort Fringe

Remaining Performances:
Jul 12th 8:45 pm
Jul 18th 7:30 pm
Jul 19th 9:15 pm
Jul 26th 4:45 pm

They say: “A government interrogator escalates psychological and physical torture against a children’s author on grounds that her book Closet Land is politically subversive. Produced by the winners of the 2008 “Best Overall” and 2007 “Best Comedy” Pick of the Fringe Awards.” This show contains foul language.

Suzyn’s take: Six people walked out.  I counted.   But I’m confident that none of them left because of the quality of the show.

This is a very intense experience, y’all.

On a basic level, Closet Land is the story of the interrogation and torture of an innocent woman.  Jessica Hansen, playing the woman, sets just the right tone from the beginning, when her character insists the arrest is a mistake.  Hansen sounds more like someone who has been in line at the post office than someone expecting to be jailed and tortured.  She has a whiny, tiresome quality that beautifully sets up what is to come.

The interrogator is played by Alex Zavistovich, whose regular-guy good looks, complete with Superman-esque cleft chin, serve as an interesting counterpoint to the sadism of his character.  Zavistovich is wonderful, at once smarmy and chilling  and with a real knack for the sleight-of-hand that the show’s few special effects require.

Soon, we too come to dread the buzzing that signals Zavistovich’s arrival.   When he uses different voices and silly dialogue to mock her and the blindfolded woman doesn’t realize it, it’s tempting to laugh in spite of the horrors taking place.  At one point, I could feel my friend beside me stiffen every time the woman was about to get an electric shock.

That was, I think, when the second couple left.

The opening night bumps were few. The stage combat could use some work, particularly the ear boxing, and when the characters talk to the audience, only the woman’s vivid and legitimately creepy description of Closet Land really works.

For those of us who persevered—and it was most of us—the experience was well worth it.   Two excellent performances made for a compelling, disturbing evening at the theater.  At one point, the woman wakes up in whorish makeup and rubs her cheek against a wall, leaving behind a smear that lasted for the rest of the show.  Moments like that linger long after the lights go down.

See it if:  You read about torture and the oppression of political dissidents, but you’ve struggled to feel a personal connection to the people involved.

Skip it if: You can’t take it, and there’s no shame in not being able to take it as far as I’m concerned.   The torture scenes are quite real and there is some seriously triggering stuff here for anyone who has ever been a victim of violence, sexual or otherwise.