REVIEWSREVIEWS BYTheatre ReviewsTom Williams

Blood on the Cat’s Neck


By Rainer Werner Fassbindertrap door theatre

Translated by Denis Calandra

Directed by Beata Pilch

At Trap Door Theatre, Chicago

Enticing dark comedy speaks to the folly of  judging human behavior by language alone

Remounting the show that 17 years ago put Trap Door Theatre on the Chicago theatre map, Blood on the Cat’s Neck celebrates the 20th year of existence for Trap Door Theatre. They are adapt at mounting unique theatre pieces. There mission statement tells all:

“Artistic Director Beata Pilch founded Trap Door with a commitment to seeking out challenging yet obscure works and bringing them to life. Whether it is a European classic rarely seen in the United States, an untarnished piece of American literature, or the playwright living next door, Trap Door will find these voices and present them to the public through innovative expression. We utilize old traditions mixed with the new to illustrate the absurdities of living in today’s society.”

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Blood on the Cat’s Neck continues the above mentioned tradition. Subtitles Marilyn Monroe versus The Vampires, this provocative show “The naked exploring alien Phoebe Zeitgeist (Simina Contras) studies human democracy through encounters with earthly inhabitants. Travel along with Phoebe as she sinks her teeth into a cast of lovers, models, butchers, teachers, soldiers, and girls.” 

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Playwright Fassbinder, died of a drug overdoes at age 36 but left 40 films, and many plays that dealt with alienation, loneliness, and our problems communicating. He always seemed to present humans in their most perverse and sensual worst. His works usually contain physical violence, cruelty, murder, unscrupulous business dealings with generous flowing blood.  Utilizing absurdist situations and rich dark humor, Fassbinder’s work (deftly translated by Denis Calandra and nicely staged by Beata Pilch) is an 85 minute jaunt into the foibles of humanity as seen through the naked (literally) eyes of an alien.

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The game cast plays off one another to establish a most intriguing and perplexing adventure that seems purposeless until the Phoebe Zeitgeist’s last speech. That becomes a true “ah ha” moment that sums up the evenings actions.

Blood on the Cat’s Neck is not only a worthy avant garde satirical comedy but it is an actor’s showcase allowing each cast member to have a few moments to shine their stage skills. Chris Popio, the policeman;  Carl Wisniewski, the butcher; Nicole Wiesner, the mistress; Nicholas Loumos, the soldier; J. Keegan Siebken, the teacher; Marzena Bukowska, the dead soldier’s wife; Lyndsay Rose Kane, the girl; Antonio Brunetti, the model; and Jacob Alexander, the lover each left it all on the stage in this spirited work.

For something provocative and well staged, get to Trap Door Theatre to have a special live experience that only avant garde theatre offers. Trap Door Theatre’s artists sure know how to do these wonderfully challenging works.


Tom Williams

Talk Theatre in Chicago podcast

Date Reviewed: November 14, 2013

Jeff Recommended

For more info checkout the Blood on the Cat’s Neck page at

At Trap Door Theatre, 1655 W. Cortland, Chicago, IL, call 773-384-0494,, tickets $20 – $25, Thursdays thru Saturdays at 8 pm, Sundays at 7 pm, running time is 85 minutes without intermission, through December 28, 2013

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