Sunday 16 May 2021
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First Look review: “The Terrible” perfectly executes the complexities of mental health and relationships


By Nicole Cash

Playing at: The Den Theatre, 1333 N. Milwaukee Ave. through Nov 21. Written by Morgan McNaught and directed by Jesse Roth.

Basic storyline: Performance artist Woolfe wakes up in a strange room with a rake, a singer from the 1930s and a psychologist, and Woolfe soon realizes she and the others are dead. Woolfe and the others must then participate in sessions with the shrink, in hopes of understanding why they ended up in the room and confronting their own scary pasts in order to move on. If they fail to do so, they must stay in the room, forever tormented by their life’s missteps.

TheTerrible-5What stood out: The Terrible, a world premiere from The New Colony, takes place in a small space right in front of the audience, making it a very cozy environment, especially perfect for the play’s theme of mental illness and personal strife. Being able to see the actors’ piercing emotion up close and in such an intimate setting makes the experience incredibly raw and relatable.

All four actors are incredibly high-energy, with performances so real and engaging, it’s impossible to leave without feeling something. Each character shows depth and has a completely different story, yet they are all able to connect with each other in a way that demonstrates true chemistry. The Terrible also has no shortage of great sound and lighting effects, which only adds to the intensity of the play’s theme and its deeper meaning about mental illness and health.

Final thoughts: The show is an original, made specifically for The Den Theatre, so go into it prepared to relax with a drink in hand but also ready to reflect. It is important to understand that this play is not just a drama with lovable, charismatic protagonists, but that it goes much deeper with mental illness and the relationships people have with one another. The show’s characters definitely bring some comic relief, but their intricacies and excellent performances are what really make it worthwhile.