Review: Ike Holter’s ‘I Hate It Here’ Is A Cathartic, Kinetic And Emotionally Gripping Audio Play


Chicago-based playwright Ike Holter is assuredly keyed into, like a lot else in his charming bibliography, the moods that outlined the earlier calendar year. Exhibit A: his audio play I Hate It Here: Stories From the End of the Old World and its manufacturing staff primarily based out of Washington DC’s Studio Theatre, which commissioned the play. They take with no consideration the high-strung reactions to 2020 to which we’ve got returned (and proceed to drum up post-exodus), responding with a self-described “album” made up of “tracks” in tune with the chaotic spirit of final year. Clocking in at simply over 80 minutes, I Hate It Here is a sequence of monologues, scenes, and songs specializing in the assorted situations by which we have brushed in opposition to looming obstacles, come face-to-face with injustices starting from apparent to sinister, and addressed the values of our psychological sanity and peace.

It’s inconceivable to be nostalgic for 2020. At least, it needs to be. When I look again on my recollections from final year, they’re all—if not maddening by nature—offset by a high quality of disappointment attributed to circumstances intimate and collective, emotional and environmental. I Hate It Here elevates this veneer of melancholy and woe with a extra energetic, aggressive voice: because the ensemble sings early on, anybody who wasn’t pushed to hate 2020 on this planet deserves to choke. The authorities powers that be, corrupt police establishments, and Mother Earth herself stripped people of a lot in 2020. What excuse is there to not?

Sans the privilege of visible cues, I Hate It Here—like Holter’s different performs—underlines his magnificently deft skill to wring poetry out of unglamorously hesitant and ostensibly assured fashionable American speech patterns. Profound glances with assonance and rhyme land beside beats of pathos-wrought repetition and bursts of speedy, sharp polemic. Although the structure of the playis distinctly subdivided (every story is clearly listed on the Studio Theatre website), its circulate—aided immensely by Mikhail Fiksel’s sprawling, partaking sound design—is suggest plain. The distinction between vignettes could also be stark at instances, however that is acquired nothing on how a listener would possibly perceive the progressions of every new story. Notably, the premise of every vignette isn’t given away too quickly—one thing {that a} lesser scribe may even see as detrimental to readability inside the audio play medium however is became considered one of Holter’s biggest, most uncompromising belongings.

I Hate It Here enlists a roster of Chicago-based Holterverse and DC expertise so as to add gasoline to its pulsating tempo. Those accustomed to Holter’s work will love listening to the abilities of actors like Sydney Charles—using spectacular vocal vary to command the play’s linguistics with willpower and wit—and Tony Santiago—right here, his characters powerfully convey a grounded moralism that solidifies the flesh and blood of the play’s voices. As this can be a sequence of vignettes, you may undoubtedly join with sure ones over others (my favorites have been on the B-side). Stories embody a satire of labor within the quick meals business circa-COVID, a trainer going up in opposition to an inherently racist chain of command at her faculty, a witty depiction of the spectrum of attitudes of those that are self-proclaimed activists, and a very fantastic scene amongst three pals having a small celebration. Altogether, they add as much as a sensible and guttural collage of unsteadiness, a doc of rage and resilience that feels regularly cathartic and by no means opportunistic.

I Hate It Here, free on the Studio Theatre web site, is on-line for 3 extra weeks. It’s fully worthy of your time and a spotlight, particularly because the tendrils of 2020 threaten to seep into the DNA of 2021. I Hate It Here would not attempt to cease that from taking place. In some ways, it is too late. But it screams out in protest—maybe that’ll sluggish the inevitable down some.

Guest creator Brooks Whitlock is an actor, author and avid reader from suburban Chicago. He is a latest graduate of Northwestern University and writes about all issues motion pictures and TV on

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