Stray Cat Theatre's 'Mercury' holds naughty characters' feet to the fire

Saturday, December 2, 2017
Arizona Republic


The plot involves two couples in crisis, a nosy neighbor, and a friendly shopkeeper whose “specialty items” are something out of “Harry Potter’s” Knockturn Alley.

How much more to reveal? Like Stray Cat’s most recent offering, Guillermo Calderón’s “Kiss,” “Mercury” is a tough play to review without getting into spoiler territory. Let’s just say that it pushes Yockey’s dark magic realism even further into the cosmic/mythic twilight zone, and that actor Michael Peck gets not one but two entrances that are thrillingly horrifying.

Also, if you are thoughtless enough to bring a child to this show, be prepared for her love of stuffed animals to come to an abrupt end.

Ostensibly, “Mercury” is a modern take on the old morality play. Indeed, the audience is invited to pass judgment on the various characters’ misdeeds and decide who most deserves a comeuppance. Is it the straying spouse (Samantha Hanna), or is it her spurned lover (Laura Anne Kenney) who takes a terrible revenge?

Then there are the squabbling boyfriends, Nick and Brian (Cole Brackney Wandelear and Ian M. White), and their suspiciously sweet neighbor (Shari Watts), who takes an unhealthy interest in the state of their relationship.

The cast is excellent, including Heather Lee Harper, as a hipster shopkeeper who’s just barely keeping a lid on her neuroses, and Peck as … well, you can decide that for yourself.

Same goes for your verdict on the Yockeyverse as a whole. “Mercury” is absolutely an entertaining ride, at least for folks who love the sight of stage blood and enjoy a little schadenfreude on the side. Yet despite his mythic ambitions, Yockey’s plays put on a pretense of postmodern parable, but they don’t quite deliver the deeper meaning he aspires to.