Youngstown Playhouse Offers a Fresh Take on ‘Misery’
YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – “Misery” is a story that’s familiar to many, thanks to the 1990 film starring Kathy Bates and James Caan.
The movie was also adapted into a play that made the rounds of community theaters.
But the version that will open a two-weekend run Friday at the Youngstown Playhouse is a new version of the tale. Written by William Goldman, who also wrote the original stage adaptation, it premiered on Broadway in 2015.
Like all versions, it is based on the novel by Stephen King.
In “Misery,” a successful romance novelist named Paul gets banged up in a car wreck and finds himself being nursed back to health in a remote cabin by a deranged woman, Annie, who is an obsessive fan of his work.
Trouble starts when Annie becomes enraged at the writer’s plan to kill off her favorite character. She holds him hostage and forces him to write another ending.
Brian Suchora and Jenna Cintavey play the two main roles. In the movie, the parts were played by Caan and Bates.
Directing the Playhouse production of “Misery” is Christopher Fidram.
With so many technical aspects, the play is challenging to put on stage, he said.
“It’s one of the most difficult plays I’ve ever directed,” Fidram said. “There is so much involved. In addition to telling a horror tale, there is the lighting, music, sound and props. There is so much to do.”
At its core are the two characters and the director, who are tasked with keeping audience members on the edge of their seats.
Fidram says he loves horror – even if it takes him out of his comfort zone as a director.
“So much about this genre relies on special effects, sounds, lighting cues,” he said.
Fidram directed the original stage version of the play at the Oakland Center for the Arts in 2008. The new version has a different script and style.
“It’s funny and entertaining, but not campy,” he said. “The script is taken from the Stephen King book and the film, and it delves into [the injured novelist’s] psyche. We’re still finding new things in it.”
Fidram sees it as a dysfunctional love story, albeit not romantic love.
“It’s about the bonding that starts to happen between the two of them,” he said. “We start to see Paul change. He starts to become a little like her, and she starts to become a little like him.”
It’s a relationship dynamic that is seldom seen.
“She loves him in a macabre way, but he comes to depend on that love,” Fidram said. “Her faith in him makes him a better writer. But is he falling for her? Or falling into her trap?”
Another key element of the production is the set, which Fidram said can turn to let the viewer peer into other rooms of the cabin.
“It’s exciting to watch the characters maneuver through it,” he said. “It’s visually stunning. The stage is not always stationary.”
In addition to Fidram, the creative team for the play includes Caitlyn N. Santiago, stage manager; Matthew Mazuroski, scenic designer; and Leslie Brown, lighting designer.
Performances of “Misery” will take place at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday and Nov. 3-4, and 2:30 p.m. Sunday and Nov. 5, on the Playhouse’s main stage.
Tickets range from $17 to $27 (plus applicable fees) and can be purchased by phone at 330 788 8739; at the DeYor Performing Arts Centre box office; and at youngstownplayhouse.org.
Pictured at top: Jenna Cintavey and Brian Suchora in a scene from the Youngstown Playhouse’s production of “Misery.”
Copyright 2023 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.