Charlotte Perkin Gilman’s 1892 novel THE YELLOW WALLPAPER is a great book on several levels: As an insight into mental illness, a horror tale about a descent into madness, and an allegorical story about suffocating patriarchy. Adopted by the mid-20th century feminist movement, it is now considered a classic of women’s literature. Wild Plum Productions’ abridged staging of the book succeeds in capturing the chills and insight of the original work.
Christine Emmert narrates (on-book), with inflections and pacing you’d want from any storyteller. Displaying a fitting nervous demeanor if not always a convincing naturalism, Katherine Mallon-Day acts as the woman enclosed by her doctor-husband in the nursery of “a colonial mansion, a hereditary estate. I would say a haunted house.” While closeted away on a bed rest for her “temporary nervous depression—a slight hysterical tendency” (what we’d call postpartum depression or perhaps other now-fashionable terms to describe human conditions), she begins to become obsessed by the patterns in the yellow wallpaper, seeing a creeping, trapped woman in the bars in the design. Will she be able to free the woman? [Shubin Theater. 407 Bainbridge Street] September 16-18, 2014; fringearts.com/the-yellow-wallpaper.