A Cramped Spider Woman
Off the Wall Theatre has a chance to overcome this distance with its current production. Its intimate studio space can bring the emotionality of a story to the stage quite vividly. The central problem with the production is that it fails to effectively deliver the squalor and desperation of incarceration to the stage. Conditions inside the tiny studio theater feel festively cramped and overcrowded, but this close to the action, the squalor is too artificial. The elegantly dreamlike cinematic world is never given a compellingly wretched world with which to contrast.
While Off the Wall may have solidly missed an opportunity with the overall production, the show is not without its merits. The music comes across quite clearly and the emotional reality at the heart of the story is vividly brought to the stage. Karl Miller and Jeremy C. Welter have an interpersonal dynamic that quite believably progresses the relationship between the two prisoners. Liz Norton is casually endearing as the film star of their fantasies. Alexandra Bonesho makes a memorably fleeting appearance as the wife beyond the prison walls that Welter's character longs for.
Off the Wall's production of Kiss of the Spider Woman runs through May 26 at Off the Wall Theatre, 127 E. Wells St. For tickets, call 414-484-8874 or visit offthewalltheatre.com.