February 25, 2013

Yellow Wallpaper


The Yellow Wallpaper is a mind-bending look at one woman’s struggle with mental illness. The play, a NoExit Performance project produced in association with Q Artistry, was adapted and directed by Ryan Mullins. The world premier of this adaptation is on stage until March 9th.

The über creepy story was originally published in 1892 and tells the story of Charlotte, a woman who is staying in the country with her husband in order to quiet the symptoms of her nervous depression (possibly post-partum depression). Her husband’s solution is a forced isolation and avoidance of all intellectual stimulation. He has set her up in a strange room where the walls are covered with ugly yellow wallpaper. As the story progresses she becomes obsessed with it and believe she can see a woman lurking behind the designs in the wallpaper. The longer she remains confined to the room the deeper she descends into her madness, taking the audience along for the ride.

The set is genius. The play requires the audience to see what Charlotte sees, which in this case is moving wallpaper and a woman hiding behind the pattern. This difficult visual is achieved by creating a constricting three-walled room as the set, with one wall backlight as a screen. The over-whelming pattern of the yellow wallpaper fills every corner with its oppressive brown swirls. The eerie, grating music adds to the mood and becomes more disturbing as the play intensifies.


Charlotte is played by the Shelley Duvall-esque Julie Mauro. She is outstanding as a woman trapped within the confines of her own life. She captures the nuances of a woman who has become so trapped in her life that even the sheer number of layers in her daily clothing is restricting. You can almost see her mood lighten with each item she removes when dressing for bed. Since the book was written as a personal diary, it works well to have Charlotte treat the audience as her confidant, breaking the fourth wall and speaking her thoughts directly to them.

Matthew Goodrich plays Charlotte’s husband John. He coddles her, acting out of love but never seeing her as more than a helpless creature. He treats her as a patient and removes her freedom for “her own good.” His frustration with the situation is palpable. Her struggle is dismissed as “nerves” because he can’t comprehend her disease.

It’s terrifying to see how easy it used to be to lock a woman away. The story is often called one of the first pieces of feminist literature. It’s a chilling look at the “treatment” women were often given and the lack of freedom they were permitted in these situations. It’s also just a great scary story, so there’s something for everyone.


The 90 minute show has no intermission, allowing the tension to build with an uninterrupted intensity. It is on stage at the Irvington Lodge, located in the lovely historic neighborhood on Indianapolis’ eastside. The area is a wonderful place to spend an evening. There are plenty of restaurants and shops where you can enjoy a meal or drink before the show.

Don't Miss the Show For more information about NoExit Performances and Q Artistry, visit www.noexitperformance.org. Q Artistry is located at 5515 E Washington St., Indianapolis, IN 46219.

Performances: The show runs until March 9 and offers three performances a week; beginning at 8 pm on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

Tickets: To purchase tickets, (317) 258-2255. Prices range from $15 to $20. The play includes adult language and issues.

Image Courtesy of the NoExit.

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