Let the fog "By the Bog of Cats" envelope you at The Artistic Home theater


Hester Swane tries to make Carthage Kilbride understand her

Enveloped in the fog on a desolate Irish bog with a haunting tune playing, the audience is immediately one with Irish playwright Marina Carr's By the Bog of Cats, playing in the intimate The Artistic Home storefront theater, 1376 W. Grand Ave., through March 26. 

Hester Swane, magnificently channeled by Kristin Collins, is dragging a dead black swan in a blanket across the bog as she encounters the Ghost Fancier (John LaFlamboy). He tells her that he is looking for the ghost of Hester Swane…and so the tale begins. 

"Think Greek tragedy on an Irish Bog. Just as tragic but twice as funny and pure poetry in the great Irish tradition," describes the production's director John Mossman, a Jeff Award winner and ensemble member. 


Josie Kilbride with her mom Hester Swane

Swane's range of emotions goes from warmth, love and compassion for her seven-year-old daughter, Josie Kilbridge (Elise Wolf), and desperate love for her true love, Carthage Kilbride (Tim Musachio), to rage and revenge. 

Emotionally scarred in childhood by her alcoholic self-centered mother who abandoned her, Hester Swane's story takes the audience on an undulating roller coaster with her demons in tow, surrounded by a community of strange, often peculiarly funny, people who seem unable or unwilling to help her. 


Caroline Cassidy experiences Hester Swane's rage

In one day, she is thrown out of her home, she learns that her love, Carthage, is marrying the daughter, Caroline Cassidy (Kelsey Phillips) of a man, Xavier Cassidy (Frank Nall), who wants her gone from the bog. 


Xavier Cassidy physically confronts Swane as he tries to convince her to leave the bog

Unwilling to give up Carthage, she insists that something in their past binds them together forever. But, it and her behavior drives them further apart, jeopardizing her having Josie remain with her. 

The Catwoman, played brilliantly by Caroline Dodge Latta, attempts to warn her but neither she or others can bring reason to the distraught Swane. 

Though her daughter loves her, even Josie is excited to be going to the wedding and then on the honeymoon. 

To have everything seemingly taken away in such a short time as the ghosts of her past haunt her, Hester Swane has major decisions to make…and she does. 


The Ghost Fancier returns for Swane

Scenic designers Andrea Jacobson and Judy Radovsky, lighting designer Claire Sangster, sound designer Petter Wahlback and costume designer Zachery Wagner round out a wonderfully honed team of talents that make this production the great experience it is for the audience. 

The Artistic Home ensemble, formed in 1998, has received many Jeff Awards in the past, this production should certainly receive high marks from this year's Joseph Jefferson Awards Committee members.

 Photos by Joe Mazza at Brave Lux Photography





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