d2 productions adapts Stephen King’s novel Misery for the stage

The idea to produce Misery came to Dale Hayes, of d2 productions, while in search of a book to read on a rainy afternoon. “I picked up Stephen King’s novel Misery, even though I’d already read it before,” said Dale. “As I was reading, the director in me came out, and I started thinking about producing it as a play.”

In Misery, the character Paul Sheldon is an author who is wintering in a small town in Colorado. He wakes up in a strange house after getting into a car accident, and learns he is at the residence of Annie Wilkes, a nurse, who also happens to be his number one fan. She is especially enamoured with his series of historical romance novels about Misery Chastain. Paul ends up being kept prisoner by Annie, who is mentally unstable and enraged that he has killed her favourite character in his most recent novel.

Playing at Mainline Theatre until November 13, Misery stars Caroline Fournier as Annie Wilkes, and Max Laferriere as Paul Sheldon. The psychological thriller is a classic on the screen as well as the original novel. As Dale was adapting it for the stage, she tried to incorporate both iterations of the story. “I watched the movie, and found that the screenplay lends itself well to the play,” she explained. “But one thing the screenplay doesn’t do is talk about Paul Sheldon’s novel Misery like it does in the book. During scene transitions, we have voiceovers of Annie Wilkes reading the novels so the audience gets a key into the Misery novels and just how much Annie loves them.”

“This was my first time directing a psychological thriller,” said Dale. “I don’t normally like horror movies, because they scare me, but this particular story scares me in a different way. There are no zombies, monsters or ghosts, just a woman who has been driven to insanity.” Dale and Caroline Fournier delved into the psychological aspect of the play, doing research on psychosis, stalking, and possessiveness. “It was interesting for us to explore,” said Dale. “To me, the psychological aspect of the play, about how she wants power and wants to take the power away from Paul Sheldon, that’s scarier than any kind of horror movie.”

Mainline Theatre provides an intimate setting for the play, and audiences are up close and personal with the scenes, including Paul Sheldon’s extreme physical pain and Annie’s violent episodes. The actors are consistently in character, even during scene changes, as the scene plays on in the background. The characters are even moving around and doing set changes during the intermission, giving audience members the eerie sensation that they might actually be in the presence of Annie Wilkes.

“What I’m hoping the audience walks away with is being frightened, of course, but with the thought that there are people out there who are like this, like the Jeffrey Dahmer’s of the world. These serial killers, and psychotic individuals exist,” said Dale. After two hours in the same room as Annie Wilkes, it’s unlikely that those thoughts could be avoided. Audience members will leave with a shiver up their spines in the remembrance that some monsters are real and walk among us. Misery runs at Mainline Theatre at 8:00 pm, until November 13. For more information, click here.

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