On April 18, “Chaos Theory,” a sexy-meets-bizarre tale of friendship and possibility takes over Annex Theater’s main stage. The new script deals with issues of sex, identity, loss, and the strain that romance can put on friendships (also not to be missed are the alternate dimensions, doppelgangers, and a giant, changing machine on the set). Caitlin Gilman of Annex Theater tells The Capitol Hill Times everything that you want to know.
Tell me about “Chaos Theory.”
“Chaos Theory” is the second main stage of the current season – a world premier written by Courtney Meaker. It’s a crazy, non-linear play.
Her four characters each have a thing, like one character has a laugh track, and you know that things start going wrong for him when the laugh track disappears. And the main character Frannie’s girlfriend vanishes; Frannie thinks that either the girlfriend left or was taken. It’s Frannie’s friends who give her a book on chaos theory to help her with grieving. That’s when they start building a machine to take them to alternate dimensions.
The play is straightforward and its characters have a forward progression – their lives, struggles, and interactions – but every scene is kind of its own. You almost don’t know where you are, or in whose reality you’re in.
When asked what inspired Courtney to write “Chaos Theory,” she said, “People don’t make much sense in a way that makes sense. Does that make sense? We’re predatory about weird things, like the chair we sit in everyday and milk. Most of us enjoy feeling altered (drugs, booze, etc.). And we define our realities by the people who surround us. So what happens when the people who make us who we are go away, or start slipping away for no discernible reason? Chaos, baby. Chaos. And I was reading Parallel Worlds by Michio Kaku so the story just started falling into place.”
How about the cast – the characters and the real people?
It’s a very tight ensemble so it’s hard to call her the main character, but Frannie is the one who the story rotates around and is played by Keiko Green, who has done one previous show with Annex, “First Date.” She’s also been part of Spin the Bottle and is a great, local actress.
It’s Frannie’s apartment that everything takes place in. One of her two closest friends, Bach, is a female-to-male transgender character played by Evelyn Dehais; she cut her hair for the part and if having a lot of fun with it. This is Evelyn’s first production with Annex; she moved to Seattle pretty recently from Chicago.
The other friend, Seth, is the one with the laugh track, and he’s the only guy. His character fancies himself to be very funny, and is very loyal. That’s Drew Highlands, who is a new-to-Annex actor, as well.
And Jana Hutchinson, the final character, was also in Annex’s production “First Date,” and was involved in Improsia when we did a co-production with them a couple of years ago. She’s a local improve actress and is very, very funny. In “Chaos Theory” she plays Mack and several other. Two characters are doppelgangers, and she plays both of them.
What’s something special or different about this performance compared to the others that Annex has put on?
This is the first Courtney Meaker play that we’ve done. It’s always exciting when we bring new, local talent to the stage. Especially female. And it’s Artistic Director Pamela Mijatov’s second full-length play that she has directed for Annex.
And there’s a giant machine onstage that changes throughout the course of the play!
Who are Annex Theatre’s typical theatergoers?
Annex draws a younger crowd than what you think of as the average theater audience. We don’t have a subscription season, we have an “A List” membership program. If you donate a certain amount you can see everything that we do.
It’s Capitol Hill’s oldest fringe theater, and we try to attract a fringe, younger audience, although every now and then we’ll do a play like the one that we just did, “Black Like Us,” and suddenly all of these people show up who had never before been to an Annex play, but because it made the Times…
Why should people pay to see a play instead of going to a movie or going out to dinner?
Go out to dinner and see a play on the same night! The gift of live theater is that your experience of the performance is unique to you and that evening – as opposed to a movie, which will be the same in any city and at any time. If you go to a play, you’re part of the performance; you participate and change a little bit what is happening onstage. The relationship that can happen between the people onstage and the people in audience is special. Also, it’s exciting because it’s live and you don’t know what’s going to happen.
Sidebar: It also puts money back into the community instead of Hollywood. That’s nice.
Absolutely. You’re supporting local artists – and especially at theatres, like Annex, that are committed to producing local work and not the latest off of Broadway. I love Broadway, too, but it’s nice to invest in your community.
Chaos Theory is showing at Annex Theater (1100 East Pike Street) from April 18 to May 17, Thursdays through Sundays at 8 p.m. General admission costs $20, but senior, military, and student discounts are available. More information is available at www.annextheater.org