Hysteria (A Love Story) | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

Arts & Culture » Performing Arts Review

Hysteria (A Love Story)


Sign up for our newsletters Subscribe


Hysteria (A Love Story), Striding Lion Interarts Workshop, at the Athenaeum Theatre. In this hodgepodge of a play written and directed by Kate Hawley, a late-19th-century doctor is determined to cure the lame, very bright Elisabeth through "the talking cure" instead of traditional medical means. She resists at first, declaring that she's not a weak-willed neurotic, but soon gives in. Hawley's shopworn point seems to be that hysteria, once a diagnosis reserved exclusively for women, is simply the result of male oppression. However, Hawley betrays her point--and her characters--when she reveals that all Elisabeth's talk about women's rights is likely just a cover for her desire to marry the one man she can't have.

Matt Yde as the doctor and Annie Kehoe as Elisabeth, wearing a perpetual doll-like pout, have heart but not much chemistry. The electricity comes from three female dancers (Jaclyn Shapiro, Allison Kutz, and Beth McDermott) who form a sort of Greek chorus. Their movement--deliciously choreographed by Erin Harper--ranges from the eccentric to the erotic as they portray the confusion and desperation of mental illness and of Elisabeth and the doctor. Both humorous and heartbreaking, the dancing makes one wonder whether a Hysteria that was pure dance might not have worked better.

Support Independent Chicago Journalism: Join the Reader Revolution

We speak Chicago to Chicagoans, but we couldn’t do it without your help. Every dollar you give helps us continue to explore and report on the diverse happenings of our city. Our reporters scour Chicago in search of what’s new, what’s now, and what’s next. Stay connected to our city’s pulse by joining the Reader Revolution.

Are you in?

  Reader Revolutionary $35/month →  
  Rabble Rouser $25/month →  
  Reader Radical $15/month →  
  Reader Rebel  $5/month  → 

Not ready to commit? Send us what you can!

 One-time donation  → 

Add a comment