The horror inside Apartment 213

New play looks into psyche of serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer

  • Pictured are Joseph Ritsch (on floor) as Jeff and Will Manning as The Victim in Iron Crow Theatre's production of "Apartment 213."
Pictured are Joseph Ritsch (on floor) as Jeff and Will Manning… (Andrea Crews, Handout photo )
November 11, 2010|By Tim Smith, The Baltimore Sun

The last person you may ever want to spend an evening with is Jeffrey Dahmer, the serial killer of boys and young men. Although the world learned what went on behind the door of Apt. 213 on N. 25th St. in Milwaukee after a would-be victim escaped in 1991, no one has ever really learned what went on in Dahmer's head.

Joseph W. Ritsch, co-founder of the recently formed Iron Crow Theatre, has attempted to peer into that psyche. His new play, "Apartment 213," is an absorbing, if not entirely satisfying, work. At only about an hour long, there isn't time for a lot of depth or detail. Then again, there's only so much information we could likely stand.

The two-character play uses video and music in unexpected, sometimes surreal ways. Graphic images on screen and nudity onstage have impact, but the most memorable touch — spoiler alert! — is a classic Nat King Cole song that makes a haunting appearance.

Ritsch gives a compelling performance as Jeff, with a vacant look and a flat voice repeatedly intoning a pickup line about taking some pictures "of posing and stuff." Will Manning is equally effective as the Victim, registering the unimaginable progression from charmed to terrorized.

Ritsch designed the sleek production, which gains considerably from Zuleira Soto-Roman's deft lighting.

"Apartment 213" will be performed at 8 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday at Emmanuel Episcopal Church, 811 Cathedral St. Tickets are $10-$15. Call 443-468-4837 or go to ironcrowtheatre.com.

—Tim Smith

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