'Tis the season for spooky tales, and Springs Ensemble Theatre has one that may put quite a scare into you.
SET hasn't shied away from plays delving into serious and controversial topics. Most recently, "Gidion's Knot" explored youth suicide. This month's play deals with the loss of a child.
"SET has been really good about choosing shows that tackle hard subjects and give light to our challenges and diverse stories," said Sarah Shaver, a founding member of the theater. "There's a lot of moms in SET, and I think losing a child is one of our worst fears."
"Afterlife: A Ghost Story," written by Steve Yockey, is at SET on Thursday-Oct. 29.
"Some people call it spooky. I would say it's a surreal, melancholy ghost story," said Shaver, chairwoman of the theater department at Pikes Peak Community College. She directs the play and is co-executive producer with Jenny Maloney, one of the play's six actors.
"Afterlife" follows Connor (Max Ferguson) and Danielle (Maloney) as they head to their beach house to prepare it for an impending hurricane. They haven't been to the house since they lost their 3-year-old son to the sea.
"In the script, Jenny (Maloney) is a mom herself. Having to clear the room when we're working on one of these hard monologues has been tough," Shaver said. "It's a joy to work with her, but I wouldn't say it's been easy.
"Connor and Danielle are dealing with grief, all the while haunted by images and sounds and memories. Then the story takes a surreal turn. They may be looking for each other in the afterlife."
The play's second act "has a very 'What Dreams May Come' feel to it. Things look real but a little off," said Shaver, referencing the 1998 film about a man (Robin Williams) searching for his wife in the lushly colored afterlife.
Magical special effects and a giant bird puppet help create the otherworldly feel to the intimate space.
"Production-wise, it's working with what you have in the space you have. We had to figure out how to fit an entire beach and beach house in that space plus 45 audience members. But it's really an exciting problem," Shaver said.
The actors' skills elevate the performance. Rounding out the cast are Lynne Hastings, David Corder, Barbara Summerville and newcomer Kevin Koops.
"We have some fantastic actors in this play that you've seen on other stages. They are good enough they should be paid, and they're volunteering their time with us," Shaver said.
MICHELLE KARAS, THE GAZETTE, 476-1602, MICHELLE.KARAS@GAZETTE.COM