An Enchanting Night At the Theatre – In A Brownstone in Chelsea

The term “enchanting” may not even be the right word.  Perhaps “enthralled” or “captivated” are more appropriate.  On the second floor of a typical brownstone on 22nd Street in the Chelsea part of Manhattan, was a not-so-typical, one-woman performance that completely blew away the audience of less than 25…maybe 30.  Too few for sure, but that was what the room held.  The lucky two dozen or so bore witness to the performance of St. Kilda, the suspense thriller written and performed by Jody Christopherson.  

“Performed” is the optimum word here because from start to its sinister finish, Christopherson was both the character on a quest, but also a master multi-tasker as the creator of the ambient soundtrack recorded live, as the story unfolds!  Imagine this: the character is headed to an obscure island off the coast of Scotland to fulfill a mission encouraged by her recently deceased grandmother only to discover a chilling family secret.  With the lights down low, not a lick of scenery — heck, not even a costume — Christopherson masterfully creates the eerie background sounds utilizing the foley-looping method where sound is recorded and layered for repetitive playback or “looping.”  

Christopherson records the sound of seagulls, lapping seawater, grave digging, even a rush of a sudden and ominous fog while telling the story.  At any one time, she is controlling foot pedals: one for recording the sound, the other to play it back, while keeping the level of suspense high. This “monoconcert,” as she describes it, is an amazing sight for the senses.  When asked about the inspiration for this story, Christopherson who is part-Scottish explains, “I’d been researching the archipelago of St. Kilda for years. I’m fascinated by abandoned places and lost civilizations. Why people leave, what scares them. The St. Kildans survived brutal conditions for thousands of years and only left after the mysterious death of a young woman. I like writing about women doing hard things, re-discovering themselves and their power.”

Directed by Isaac Byrne, with the foley-looping designed by Andy Evan Cohen, St. Kilda was co-produced and performed on the second floor of Torn Page, the historic home of Rip Torn and Geraldine Page.  The show is one of seven being offered as part of the so-fi festival which runs through January 6, 2019. Additional performances of St. Kilda are scheduled for December 19 and 21 at 8 p.m.; January 5 at 8:30 p.m., and January 6 at 3:30 p.m.

Wine and chocolate are available for purchase between shows and if you’re lucky, you may meet Lady Brewster, the hostess from days gone by who may or may not be a witch.  Watch in amazement as Erika Phoebus brings this character to life, however fleetingly, while waiting for the next show to start. 

Torn Page is located at 435 West 22nd Street.  For more information, visit so-fi-festival.com. 

Top and middle photo by Michael Niederman  

Bottom photo by Kacey Anisa 

 

About MJ Hanley-Goff (62 Articles)
MJ Hanley-Goff has been contributing to WomanAroundTown since its inception in 2009. She began her career at Newsday and for ten years wrote for the Sunday Real Estate section. A move to the Hudson Valley brought her to the Times Herald-Record where she continued to write for a Sunday Real Estate section, and also joined the writing team at the monthly Orange Magazine. MJ then became editor of Hudson Valley Parent magazine, and contributed articles to Hudson Valley Magazine, AAA’s Car & Travel, and Tri-County Woman. After completing her novel and a self-help book, she created MJWRITES, INC. and conducts writing workshops, and as a self-proclaimed book “whisperer,” works with new writers on their books. Now back on Long Island, she continues to enjoy the opportunity to write for Woman Around Town, and the amazing adventures it offers, including reviewing concerts, events, and tourist attractions in New York, and around the world. “I particularly enjoy drawing attention to the off the beaten path kinds of events and experiences,” she says. “It’s great big world out there, with so many talented and creative artists, doers, and thinkers.”