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Review: Yellow Wallpaper at Q Artistry


Julie Mauro as Charlotte in Yellow Wallpaper.
  • Julie Mauro as Charlotte in Yellow Wallpaper.

In NoExit and Q Artistry's adaptation of Charlotte Perkins Gilman's creepy short story, husband and wife rent a country house for the summer, new baby and nanny in tow. John, a physician, has diagnosed Charlotte with nervous hysteria, but they disagree on the best treatment regimen - so the bedroom meant to be a retreat instead becomes a prison.

Supported by a strong cast, Julie Mauro nails the nervous physicality of the increasingly unhinged Charlotte. Her slender, graceful fingers trace the furniture to ground her, yet nervously flutter at her throat; her bored pacing becomes watchful slinking.

The set's odd angles and the production's ominous soundtrack add to the disorientation and tension of the piece, but Michael Burke's hideous yellow wallpaper is the show's other star. The pattern in Charlotte's room is a Rorschach blot for the demented, and enhanced by lighting and projections, the paper undulates and appears to breathe, as if it has captured the life of the woman trapped by it.

Director Ryan Mullins's adaptation is faithful; the additions made to flesh out the script only serve to heighten our doubt about and empathy with each character. Charlotte's suffering is exacerbated by her lack of creative exercise and autonomy, but her family clearly cares about her, and her treatment is based on the medical theories of the time - proof that the best of intentions can have frightful results.


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