Lipstick Theatre’s fall show Hookman follows Lexi as she navigates her freshman year of college and the death of her friend from high school, all while a mysterious serial killer is on campus. A satirical slasher comedy, the show is a mix of ridiculous comedic moments and serious moments portraying violence, sexual assault and the difficulties of transitioning to college.

Photo by Eugenia Cardinale / North by Northwestern

Director Valen-Marie Santos, a Communication junior, helped pick the show alongside producer and Communication sophomore Amal Salem and the Lipstick board.

Santos was drawn to the show because of its unique way of addressing everyday experiences on college campuses through the specific lens of the slasher genre.

“I just was really interested in the use of the slasher genre in order to explore trauma and in order to explore specifically feminist issues in the context of college,” Santos said. “I thought it was something that could really resonate with the college-age audience, especially female-identifying college students.”  

Salem was also drawn to the way the show’s comedic elements bring out its serious subject matter.

“Even though it is a satire, it emphasizes the importance of what young females face in everyday life, especially on campus, especially their first year,” Salem said.

Photo by Eugenia Cardinale / North by Northwestern 

The show fits Lipstick’s mission of tackling women’s issues through performance – it's written by a female playwright and directly address issues female college students face.

When working with the satirical elements of the script, Santos focused on reading between the lines in the more over-the-top moments of the show.

“I think I really wanted to lean into how absurd the show can be,” Santos said. “I always like to say it’s like taking a script and making it your own by playing with not just the lines that are given to you, but the space in between the lines and really imagining what can be done with the script other than just reciting the lines the way it’s written.”

Santos also wanted to focus on the mysterious elements of the show, leaving the audience with questions but making sure they have enough information to connect the dots.

“I think the whole play is a set of puzzle pieces being laid out that don’t really come together until a very particular moment,” Santos said. “So making sure we’re very clear and intentional about the puzzle pieces we set out, even though the audience may be confused, so that when they all come together they come together clearly and it makes sense.”

Photo by Eugenia Cardinale / North by Northwestern

Another distinctive aspect of the show are its technical elements, specifically the special effects make-up and fake blood involved. According to Salem, the focus was on figuring out the logistics of these elements, which included a face getting ripped off, while also making sure it was being done safely.

Ultimately, despite its comedic elements, the show is meant to reflect the real life experiences of college students.

“Even though this play can exaggerate a lot of aspects that people go through, these things are still happening,” Salem said. “There might not be a person running around with a hook for a hand, but he’s kind of a representation of all the negative people and experiences that young women have had on campus and are still having.”

Hookman will run in Shanley Pavilion on Nov. 21 at 7:00p.m., Nov. 22 at 7:00 and 10:30p.m. and Nov. 23 at 2:00 and 7:00p.m.