Misery | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Simon Moore's adaptation of Stephen King's grotesque thriller first played here last year in a cramped Rogers Park storefront that looked like it could seat about eight skinny people. The unavoidable claustrophobia served the pressure-cooker script well: the audience was trapped just like protagonist Paul Sheldon--the critically injured romance writer held captive in the remote cabin of his sadistic "number-one fan" Annie Wilkes. Ask director David Zak how he's going to restage the original Pyewacket show on Theater on the Lake's three-quarter thrust stage--against screen walls that let in sound from the lakefront and Lake Shore Drive--and you get a belly laugh. "Well, we're just going to do it," he says. If anyone can hold an audience spellbound in such an unforgiving environment it's Kate Harris, whose creepy portrayal of Wilkes earned her a Jeff citation. Harris is monstrous, mercurial, pathetic, and so singular in her demented mission it's as though nothing else in the world exists. Her performance is enough to erase all memory of Kathy Bates from your mind. And if the infamous hobbling scene is anything like it was last fall, you'll cower and cheer at its gruesome audacity. Theater on the Lake, Fullerton and Lake Shore Dr., 312-742-7994. Opens Wednesday, July 7, 7:30 PM. Through July 11: Thursday-Saturday, 7:30 PM; Sunday, 6:30 PM. $15.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Jennifer Girard.

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