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Theater Review (Chicago): ‘Second Skin’ from the Wildclaw Theater Brings Halloween Chills

“On these nights, you hear footsteps behind you,
But when you turn around, nobody’s there.
There’s just the smell of salt.
That’s me.”

Eerie words that will invade your mind as you experience the haunting tale that is Second Skin.

Written by Kristin Idaszack, this horror drama, produced by the WildClaw Theater, follows three intertwining monologues told by three women whose lives are all connected in ways that go beyond what is immediately apparent.

From the moment the play opens, we see Quinn, played by Stephanie Shum, treating herself to a bottle of something strong as she explains to the audience her tempestuous relationship with her mother. Her mother, often reserved, was often prone to fits of extreme panic in the face of some unknown agitator whom Quinn had never seen. She also recounts a bedtime story that her mother would often tell about Selkies: the souls of drowned women who sometimes would return to land. Quinn wonders why her mother would relay such terrifying tales to her.

This setup draws the audience in immediately, posing questions as to why Quinn’s mother acted the way she did. Soon, however, the story shifts as her mother, Sigrid, takes the stage and begins to explain the tale of her own life. Actress Paula Ramirez keeps the audience engaged the entire time as her character relates various anecdotes of laughter and sorrow. Piece by piece, questions are answered as mysteries become explained. But by the end of her story, there is still one very large question left.

That’s where the character of Aislinn comes in. Providing the third and final piece of the puzzle, she regales the audience with her own experiences. I will not say any more lest I spoil anything for the would-be viewer, but I would like to compliment Sarah Lo (the understudy to Hilary Williams who took the role at the performance I attended) for an amazing job driving home this incredibly complicated character, who well skirts the line between sympathy and terror.

Second Skin was a treat worth seeing. Unfortunately, this show is currently in its final week (the last show performance is Saturday, October 13).

But for those who crave more, the WildClaw Theater specializes in Horror Theater year round! Their DeathScribe season has just begun, where you can listen to audio plays of some of the most spine-tingling stories you will ever hear. Visit their website or Facebook page for more information.

And for those participating in Inktober, WildClaw is calling for your art depicting their Deathscribe Stories. More information HERE.

About Eric Engstrom

Eric Engstrom is an avid board game lover and general tabletop enthusiast. He is also the owner and operator of Grey Dolphin Games, which focuses on supporting game designers and publishers.

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