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Theater again enters ‘Madhouse’

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Staff report

YOUNGSTOWN

Rust Belt Theater Company will bring back its dark comedy “Madhouse” for six performances, beginning this weekend.

The play, written and directed by Rust Belt founder Robert Dennick Joki, is about a woman named Elizabeth who has always seen faces in places that faces should not be, such as houses, cars, trees and household objects.

Triggered by the sudden death of her brother, Elizabeth begins to believe that inanimate objects are actually speaking to her, influencing her life in ways she never thought possible.

The show uses a projection screen to show audience members what the world looks like through Elizabeth’s eyes.

When everyday objects “come alive” and begin to speak, their photos are flashed on the screen, with cast members providing their voices.

Many of the photographs have been digitally manipulated to help the audience see what Elizabeth sees.

Joki said the play – which premiered in 2017 – is partially autobiographical.

“I’ve always used humor to help me through difficult times,” said Joki. “This story is based on my own struggle with depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. Grief can be a very deep hole to dig yourself out of, and different people have different ways of coping.

“I wrote this play as a little piece of art therapy to deal with some major losses in my life.”

The cast includes Brooke Nobbs, Jude Mikulich, Kage Coven, Lisa Torrence, Celena Coven, Heather Powell, Mary Boldish James, Jim Hain, Josh Yohman, Janelle Yohman, Samuel Mentzer and Marisa Zamary.

Performances will be at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and also May 17, 18, 24 and 25.

Tickets are $15 ($10 for students and seniors); for reservations, call 330-507-2358.

The Rust Belt Theater Company is located in the Calvin Center, at 755 Mahoning Ave., just outside of downtown Youngstown.