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Gift Theatre's War Romance 'Unseen' Transports Viewers Across The World

By Alex Nitkin | February 15, 2017 5:27am
"Unseen" follows Mia, a war photographer who wakes up with partial memory loss in an Istanbul hospital bed.
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The Gift Theatre

JEFFERSON PARK — The Gift Theatre is taking its spring season to tell an intimate and harrowing story, set on the other side of the world.

A romance, war drama and psychological thriller rolled into a single production, "Unseen" is wrapping up a week of preview shows in advance of its Thursday grand opening at the theater, 4802 N. Milwaukee Ave.

The play opens on Mia, a news photographer who wakes up confused in an Istanbul hospital bed after being found at a massacre site in an unspecific Middle-Eastern country. As her mother and a former lover come to her bedside, Mia — and the audience — gradually start to piece together her identity, lurching through flashbacks to probe into the mind of a strong-willed but deeply damaged heroine.

"At the top of the play, even Mia doesn't even want to know who she is," said Maureen Payne Hahner, the play's director. "But since she's surrounded by people who love her and who are really pushing her, she's forced to really re-examine her whole life."

With just three actors playing seven characters, Hahner and her production team are able to squeeze piercing action sequences and exotic environments into the Gift Theatre's narrow venue, she said.

"We put a projection up above Mia's bedroom, this intimate nook, to show her photos, and show the passage of time," Hahner said. "We're really excited about all the visual and acoustic tools we have to really make it pop."

"Unseen" will show at the Gift Theatre at 7:30 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, in addition to matinees at 3:30 p.m. Saturdays and 2:30 p.m. Sundays.

Tickets cost between $30 and $40 each and can be bought on the theater's website.