For a show set entirely in a small, out-of-the-way girls’ bathroom in a high school, this was a show that was surprisingly big. It was big in ideas and concepts. As a very nice touch, pre-show and after-show we were treated to a discussion by lighting designer, Katie McCreary, on how an actual in-person production would use lighting to highlight the scenes, and how discussing design added to the rehearsal process and backstories. It was a lovely, thoughtful touch.
This is a play that I would look forward very much to seeing in full production—it’s mysterious, elegant (even in a girl’s bathroom), and elegiac.
Part of Rorschach’s Magic in Rough Places play readings, this was an introspective and magical look at change, connections, and loss. The casting, the writing, and direction made this an engrossing experience.
Gabe has died and his loss has affected his best friend, Ellie (Madison Midleton), and their group of friends in different ways. Ellie has closed off and Georgie (Donnie McElveen) and Louise (Becca Berlind) are trying to help her cope, as well as deal with changes in their own lives. All three are juniors. Into this close-knit group comes Jen (Shirite Westreich), a new girl in school and the year behind. A subplot involved Dan (Jacob Gee) who showed some pictures of him and Louise but it barely registers.
Ellie and Georgie are LGBTQ and so is Jen. Jen is the most laid-back character, offering friendship and conversation, and possibly more to Ellie, but Ellie is not in a place to cope. Jen is also a new friend of Georgie’s.
This group is facing real, traumatic loss. Gabe died in front of Ellie in a bleacher accident. Ellie is losing herself, and her friends are trying to keep her in the real world. Complicating this is her conviction that she is haunted by an old woman, who she doesn’t really meet until the end. In the meantime, the friends become desperate enough to try some magic to help Ellie that further traumatizes her, and begins to drive a wedge into their bond.
Written by Kate Attwell, this work covers a lot. The purpose of the Dan subplot still escapes me, but the progression of the group’s fracturing, and possible healing, is elegantly written. You get caught up and feel empathy for what these teens are going through, all the while navigating high school, the future, love, and death.
This is a play that I would look forward very much to seeing in full production—it’s mysterious, elegant (even in a girl’s bathroom) and elegiac. Fingers crossed that Rorschach can bring it to life when live theatre is again a part of our lives. Until then, I’m very glad I got to watch this reading.
Running Time: Approximately one hour.
Show Advisory: Language, blood.
“Mercury” is brought to life through the Magic in Rough Spaces initiative. It streamed June 28, 2020 on Rorschach Theatre’s YouTube account. For more information, click here.