Theatre Review: Yellow Wallpaper at the Q

A short story written by Charlotte Perkins Gilman in 1891 is the basis of the play Yellow Wallpaper, which is playing at the Irvington Lodge through March 9.  The original story was considered one of the early examples of feminist literature.
The story is told from Charlotte’s perspective. A recent mother, she has developed anxiety and stress, and her husband takes her to a rented house, where she is ordered to do nothing but rest in an upstairs room decorated with wildly patterned yellow wallpaper. Day after day she’s kept in the room, allowed out only for short walks in the gardens, seeing no one but her husband John and his sister Gennie. She keeps a journal, but her husband thinks that writing and thinking are too stressful for her delicate condition. They allow her to visit her child every day, very briefly, and under supervision. The child’s cries stress her even more. Her brother Robert comes to visit a few times — John and Robert are both doctors who treat women’s “hysterical conditions” and “nervous disorders.” Charlotte begins to hallucinate, fixating on the figures she sees in the wallpaper, believing them to be women who are watching over her. John, Robert and Gennie watch helplessly as Charlotte’s obsession pulls her away from reality. As the endless days progress, she begins to believe she is one of them and locks the door to prevent her family from taking her away to a sanitarium.
Q Artistry and NoEXIT Performance co-present Yellow Wallpaper. A good cast, lead by Julie Mauro as Charlotte, pull the audience along the difficult path to one woman’s torment thanks to strong direction from Ryan Mullins. Matthew Goodrich as John, Molly Tucker as Gennie, and Sam Fain as Robert handle supporting roles with aplumb while Mauro shines in the difficult role of a woman losing her mind, running the emotional range from semi-docile to shrieking madwoman in the span of an hour and a half.
The set design is also a character in the play. As the play’s name suggests, the yellow wallpaper does come to life thanks to backlit projections. The moving shadows provide an additional sinister effect to an already disturbing play.
Performances of Yellow Wallpaper are Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. at the Irvington Lodge, 5515 E. Washington St. Tickets are $20 for general admission; $15 for seniors and students (with valid ID). Visit to reserve seats.