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Our Pick: The Great God Pan

By Ali Trachta in Arts & Entertainment on Feb 25, 2008 5:24PM

Often when we think of plays, rosy cheeks and jazz hands come to mind. While a great variety of plays exist, it seems the majority try to uplift and entertain, not scare the bejesus out of us. But the WildClaw Theatre wants us to expect the unexpected. This newly-formed company is dedicated exclusively to bringing true horror back to the stage, and wastes no time kicking off their mission with The Great God Pan - their inaugural show which opened Sunday night at the Athenaeum Theater in Lakeview.

2008_02_greatgodpan.jpgThe play is based on a story of the same title written by Arthur Machen in the 1890s. Machen’s admirers include the likes of Oscar Wilde and Robert Louis Stevenson, and the story is generally regarded as one of the most significant works of horror ever created. Therefore it’s fitting that someone as passionate as Charley Sherman would produce the stage play. Sherman, a transplant to Chicago from Nottingham, England, has directed adaptations of literary works by acclaimed horror writer and filmmaker Clive Barker, of Hellraiser and Candyman fame. Now as leader of the fledging WildClaw company, he seeks to have theater audiences take the genre of horror seriously.

The Athenaeum Theater, being small and slightly resembling a high school, one might expect a somewhat hokey performance in the way of horror. But this group puts forth a truly knee-knocking show. Actress Michaela Petro, whose role of Mary invokes Linda Blair in The Exorcist, was enough to make your heart skip. (We admit, we flinched.) And Lily Mojekwu’s portrayal of Helen, a half-woman, half-hell spawn murderess who slays her suitors, is creepily convincing as an evil, not quite human soul.

Our take: next time you’re in the mood for a spine-tingler, put down the Netflix and give this play a shot. It delivers the guts and gore you crave, and you may actually get blood splattered on you. Score.

The Great God Pan runs Thursday - Saturday at 7:30 PM, and Sunday at 3:00 PM. Tickets are $20.