By Michael Buzzelli
Everyone grieves differently. When actor Katie Mack lost her ex-boyfriend, Eric Anthamatten, she took to the stage and created her immersive, interactive show, “Ugly Cry.”
“Ugly Cry” is (kinda sorta) a one-woman show. Mack draws the audience into the theatrical event. There are QR codes, video interactions, and, at one point, a game show with contestants chosen from the audience.
She begins the show from the treadmill where Mack explains the concept, letting the audience wander around the set, scanning QR codes and playing interactive games with their iPhones before sitting down. Then, when everyone is settled, Mack begins her tragic tale.
Her ex-boyfriend, Eric Galen Anthamatten, 43, was murdered in a dispute on the beach in Pochutla, Oaxaca, Mexico. When she’s unable to heal devastating news, she uses her iPhone to conjure him up, first via a text mail chain, and then through hundreds of photographs, articles and stories about the late Anthamatten.
Mack takes the concept as far as it can go, stretching the boundaries of the internet to keep her memories of this man at the forefront.
One-person shows are difficult. If you don’t like the one person in the one-person show, you’re stuck in a theatre for an eternity. Luckily, Mack exudes charisma and her tale about her ex is intriguing and engaging, and the evening goes by quickly.
The self-proclaimed millennial used a lot of millennial tricks, crafting her iPhone into a third character creating a ‘jeu a trois.’ Some of the gimmicks worked, but, for the Luddites among us, some did not.
[Personal note: In a Dunning-Kruger Moment, this reviewer believed he was more technically proficient than he was and struggled with turning the flashlight app on his cell phone when asked – the very first assignment Mack gives the audience.]
The show, at times, seems self-indulgent, but, once again, all one-person performances have those moments. It’s the nature of the beast. Mack uses some self-effacing humor to combat those moments and keeps them to a minimum. There is an excellent bit about the DNA of white women.
Co-creator and Technical Director Janus Young does a fantastic job utilizing projections, video clips, and other technical elements gracefully into the show. Oddly, it takes a village to mount a one-woman-show. Mack and Young were aided Natalie Rose Mabry for video and projection design, Shannon Knapp for sound design and Juliette Louste for lighting design.
Director Susanne McDonald keeps the energy level set on high impact. Mack, literally and figuratively, runs through the whole show, but it sets up a unique and poignant idea about setting goals.
There are a few profound moments in “Ugly Cry.” You will, most likely, leave the theater somewhat different than you came in, grappling with questions about your mortality.
Mack is taking the show to the Chain Theatre at the end of October. There are a few kinks to work out before “Ugly Cry” gets a New York City debut, but it’s a thoughtful and interesting evening in Carnegie.