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Anomalous Experience
by Joe Hanrahan
Directed by Morgan Maul-Smith
The Midnight Company
May 5, 2022

Payton Gillam, Joe Hanrahan
Photo by Joey Rumpell
The Midnight Company

Joe Hanrahan’s Midnight Company is back, with an original show that’s not very long in terms of time, but is full of intensity and meaning in its own way nonetheless. Anomalous Experience is actor-playwright Hanrahan’s foray into the unexplained, covering the often controversial topic of alien abductions. It’s an intriguing piece with a strong cast, but what stands out especially are the surprisingly strong production elements that add much to the overall sense of eeriness and mystery.

The play is presented in the format of a lecture by psychologist and professor James Collins (Hanrahan), who has worked with a variety of clients over the years who have claimed to have been abducted by aliens. He introduces us to two such clients–Virginia (Payton Gillam), whose case is described as more “classic”, and Scott (Joseph Garner), whose tales are a little more unusual. It’s all very straightforward in terms of presentation, but the tension ramps up as the stories get going.

There isn’t much here in terms of subject matter that hasn’t been covered in science fiction or shows like Unsolved Mysteries back in the day, but the actors make their stories compelling. Hanrahan makes an effective facilitator as Collins, and both Gillam and Garner are credible in their portrayals of their experiences. What especially adds to the experience, though, is the stellar work by sound designer Ellie Schwetye and lighting designer Tony Anselmo, in elevating this production from a simple interview format to a more increasingly chilling experience. As the characters tell their stories, the lighting and especially the sound effects add a creepy, suspenseful tone that punctuates the storytelling with surprising effectiveness. The pacing and staging by director Morgan Maul-Smith also lends much to the overall tone of the production, and even though you may have heard similar stories on TV or in movies before, these characters and their stories are made all the more compelling by the strong acting and excellent technical production.

No matter what you think about the topic of alien abduction in the real world, the topic makes for an intriguing subject as presented here. Anomalous Experience may not being breaking any new ground in its portrayal of this topic, but it’s a story told especially well. It’s a simply staged production, but an impressive cast and especially impressive technical design elevates the material. It’s an engaging, occasionally chilling, and thought-provoking piece from The Midnight Company.

Joe Hanrahan, Joseph Garner
Photo by Joey Rumpell
The Midnight Company

The Midnight Company is presenting Anomalous Experience at the .ZACK Theatre until May 21, 2022

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