According to its official description, “Hypochondria” tells the story of “a serial killer, a hypochondriac, and a man who believes he is Marilyn Monroe.” The play’s thematic focus on celebrity obsession and disenchantment in contemporary society may prove relevant for students.
Kyle Jarrow’s upcoming play “Hypochondria” was described as “exciting, thrilling, fun, sexy, and adventurous” by the play’s producer, second-year MFA student Alona Fogel. The show, free for all who attend, will run from April 8 to April 10 at Columbia’s Shapiro Theater (605 W. 115th St.).
Director Jimmy Maize, a second-year MFA student, approached Jarrow and asked him for a play, with the hopes of showing it as part of the MFA program’s two-play-a-year requirement. “I wrote it four years ago,” Jarrow said. “I did a bunch of drafts of it and then it sat in a dresser drawer—essentially a folder on my computer—for a couple of years. When Jimmy came to me and said he was looking for a play to direct, I thought it would be a good match.”
Maize agreed. “I pulled it out and sent it to him and he was really into it,” Jarrow said.
Jarrow believes that the play, in its first full production, is just as appropriate now as it was when he wrote it. “It’s about people being obsessed with celebrity and the idea of celebrity,” he said. One could draw a parallel to recent media dramatization of the Charlie Sheen lawsuit. Jarrow said, “I get the sense that the guy is not healthy.”
Maize and Jarrow have known each other a long time. “Kyle and I met when I moved to the city in 2003, because I was a fan of his glam rock band “The Fabulous Entourage,” Maize said. “Kyle and I have always stayed close and supportive of each other’s work, and it is amazing to finally have the opportunity to collaborate with him fully. He is one of the most easygoing and generous artists I have ever worked with, and this entire process has been a joy start to finish.”
Maize appreciates how easily the story flowed from script to production. “Kyle’s writing is so visually oriented, and the tone and aesthetic he was writing for is something that has to live off of the page,” Maize said. “I could imagine the script onstage in my mind when I first read it, in the way all good theater strives for—to only be existent when realized in its full form. I knew it would be a challenge, bringing the stylized world to life—but a fun challenge with great dividends.”
Jarrow hopes undergraduates will attend the show, which he hopes will come across as funny yet twisted. “It has a lot of rock songs in it … definitely the kind of thing that would appeal to the undergraduate crowd,” he said. “I try to make theater for people who are underrepresented by the theater that’s out there. This show is definitely a young show. It’s free and it’s only an hour and a half, so it’s in and out. I’d love it if undergraduates came.”
For those who do decide to make it to a performance this weekend, Jarrow gave a few words of advice. “It’s the kind of show where if you have a couple of drinks beforehand, you might even like it more. It’s that kind of show,” he said.
Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly identified Kyle Jarrow as a Columbia student. Spectator regrets the error.