Mark Baer, director of Towle Theatre’s production of “Hypnosis,” was prompted to think deeper than most when it comes to some of the mind games depicted in the Hammond-based ensemble’s annual late summer production.
"The idea that someone might have the power to put you to sleep, make suggestions, control your thoughts, and then wake you up and have you never remember it is a little uncanny,” he said. “That idea is scary. And I think it's reasonable most people don't take it seriously. We don't want to look closely at that power, that possibility that somebody else has that sort of control over us.”
Opening Sept. 8 and running through Sept. 24, “Hypnosis” is the tale of The Great Gordo, an aging hypnotist whose world is turned upside down after crossing paths onstage with Alan Briggs, an audience member and police officer, and his wife, Helen Briggs.
“Hypnosis” was penned by English playwright David Tristam, whose credits include plays such as “Inspector Drake’s Last Case,” “The Secret Lives of Henry and Alice” and “Searching for Doctor Branovic.” “Hypnosis” was penned by Tristam in 2007.
Towle Theatre’s production of “Hypnosis” marks its Midwest debut.
"I think it should be a lot of fun, and a little bit of a roller coaster of a show,” Baer said of the play. “There are lots of twists and turns here and some laughs too. There are intricate theories of lies and manipulations, I think, that exposes something scary about human nature that we don't like to look at or pretend this side of human interaction doesn't exist.”
The cast of Towle’s “Hypnosis” is made up of Jim Henry as Gordo, Ian Rigg as Alan Briggs and Stephanie Rohr as Helen Briggs.
Baer, who is an assistant professor of theater at Indiana University Northwest, has experience working with small casts. In 2014, he helmed Towle’s production of the thriller “The Nightmare Room,” whose cast consisted of only two thesps.
"It's very intimate being in a rehearsal room with three actors," he said. "You get to know each other so well, and I think the intimacy necessary to be onstage together develops more quickly in a small cast rehearsal process. They come to depend on each other very much because there's nobody else.
“It's an exciting process for me and it's a pleasure to go to rehearsal every night,” Baer added. “I just enjoy spending time around these three folks."
Next up for Towle Theatre is the annual holiday production, “A Fabulous '50s Christmas,” scheduled to run Dec. 1-17.
Due to one suggestive adult situation, “Hypnosis” may not be appropriate for young or sensitive audiences.