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After Know’s “Mercury”, You’ll Never Look At Your Neighbors The Same Way Again!

Review by Spenser Smith of “Mercury”: Know Theatre

If I had to describe the Know Theatre‘s “Mercury” in one sentence it would go a little something like this: Meddling desperate housewives, with a little help from a punk rock Sanderson sister, send their enemies to hell to meet Sweeney Todd. I hope you’re intrigued.

The world-premiere production by Steve Yockey, who wrote one of my all-time Know Theatre favorites “Pluto”, fills this psychological thriller with characters all of which you somewhat dislike. Art imitates life? The show focuses on three “relationships.” In the first Heather (Elizabeth Chinn Molloy) is looking for Mr. Bundles, her “sneaky” dog that has run off. Her neighbor, Pamela (Robyn Novak), is more interested in how many swigs it takes to get to the bottom of the scotch bottle than where the four-legged friend might have wound up. Tension builds as we learn that the two are more than neighbors and they’re not on the same page as to where their relationship, or their feelings on its conclusion, stands. We then meet Olive (Eileen Earnest) who is back to her favorite novelty shop run by Alicia (Tess Talbot) to pick up something a little stronger than a ”candle.” Olive has some upstairs neighbors, Brian (Andrew Ian Adams) and Nick (James Creque), that are a little too loud a little too often and she thinks Alicia can help her fix the problem. She’s not supposed to, but after some begging, Alicia gives Olive a book that will bring about the desired outcome to its recipient. Meanwhile, Heather has found her way to the shop as well. She gives her parting gift to Pamela and Olive leaves her surprise for Brian. Upon receipt–BAM–Pamela and Brian are sent into the underworld where we meet Sam (Patrick Earl Phillips), the aforementioned Sweeney Todd-esque undertaker that will decide their fate. Phillips’ Sam finds the humor in the cruel and vile operation he runs with his partner Alicia. They’ll been dating for, like, 127 years and she still doesn’t have a ring. In their coexistence, Alicia handles the “airfare” and Sam takes care of the rest. Just one look at him and you know what he’s been doing. Each of the characters is flawed. None of them think they have quite what they think they want or deserve. The play is about their individual ways of getting to that place. For some, it won’t be the outcome they envisioned.

Director, Scenic and Lighting Designer Andrew Hungerford has assembled a dynamite ensemble cast. The play centers around the complex relationships of its characters and when they are speaking directly to one another we see the stories strongest moments. The three-sided turntable set makes great use of the space while also giving us enough separation of the worlds to stave confusion.

This play might be too mature for some, but those elements are never unjustified. The story is a cynical look at ourselves, the relationships we forge in life and the stark differences in how people deal with their personal demons. If you don’t see it for that, it’s 95 minutes of pure thrill!


“Mercury” plays through May 11. Get tickets at 513-300-KNOW or knowtheatre.com