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59E59 Theaters, New York

Perfect fare for the recent Halloween weekend, The Collector is a psychological thriller that will make your skin crawl. It’s a deep dive into the mentality of a disturbed lottery winner as he steps over the line and dives into the deep end of criminally insane.

Frederick Clegg, an unassuming clerk wins the lottery and goes about fulfilling his unusual dreams. Desperate for human connection and crippled by his social anxiety, Frederick uses his winnings to buy a secluded house in the country and furnish it with everything he thinks a beautiful woman could desire. Fredrick plucks Miranda Grey, a nineteen-year-old girl that he has always worshiped from afar, from her life and imprisons her in his cellar. After the initial shock, the two strike a deal that he won’t hurt her as long as she doesn’t try to leave. But, in a relationship based on the violation of boundaries and terror, how long will that promise last?

The Collector invites you to watch the abhorrent actions of a mad man from the point of view of the perpetrator. This tactic doesn’t allow you to dismiss his actions as merely evil; you can almost start to empathize with his choices. But what he does is unjustifiable, and the story becomes all the more horrifying as you see the impact of his decisions on the life of the girl. Neither character is without flaws, and both suffer, but only one goes on to make unspeakable choices. Director Lisa Milinazzo does a great job of balancing sympathy and the unthinkable.

This life-and-death game of cat and mouse by Fredrick played by Matt De Rogatis and the Miranda Grey played by Jillian Geurts is set in London, and the actors did a fantastic job of bringing the accents and culture to life. Jillian was especially a refreshing victim- she brought a fierce intelligence to the role and never stopped fighting. She may  have pulled some of her punches physically due to the limitations of the set, but her energy was fantastic. Fredrick was very committed, clearly having shaved his head for the prerequisite creepy-man bald spot. However, he was still a good looking man. I would’ve loved to have seen someone with a more visceral understanding of what it’s like to be unseen and fundamentally repulsive.

A well-paced show, The Collector has a strong sttucture and is expertly adapted from John Fowles’ novel by Brit playwright Mark Healy. This script is very strong and well brought to life in the small and very intimate black box. Surrounding the stage on three sides and only a few seats deep, the intimate space makes you feel like you are locked in the basement with the characters. Sometimes we see quite a bit of the other patrons- the slightest movement can attract the attention-but perhaps that is the point. The walls are lined with butterflies that The Collector has pinned there. Perhaps we are just part of The Collected.

This is a solid show perfect for the cerebral types who like to dissect human nature over the gore and screams of a haunted house. You’ll definitely be ready to celebrate life with a few leftover Halloween treats after this one.

  • Drama
  • Adapted from John Fowles’ novel by Mark Healy
  • Director: Lisa Milinazzo
  • Cast includes: Jillian Geurts and Matt De Rogatis
  • 59E59 Theaters, New York
  • Until 13 November 2016
  • Review by Laura Vogels
  • 5 November 2016

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