The Hunchback Variations

Photographer: George Hixson

Suddenly a distant sound is heard, coming as if out of the sky, like the sound of a string snapping, slowly and sadly dying away.

– Anton Chekhov, The Cherry Orchard

The extraordinary Mickle Maher is back!  Maher has become a Houston favorite a result of Catastrophic productions of his plays The Strangerer, Spirits to Enforce, There Is A Happiness That Morning Is, and the world premiere of The Pine.

In The Hunchback Variations, noted composer Ludwig Van Beethoven and noted hunchback Quasimodo team up to chair a panel on sound design.  More specifically they are explaining their fruitless efforts to create the impossible cue: that baffling sound effect described at the end of Anton Chekhov’s The Cherry Orchard.  The panel follows the pair’s frustrated efforts, complicated by the fact that they are both quite deaf.

Thematically, the play explores the creative impulse and the question of artistic endeavor.  Is it a noble thing to continue to try in the face of inevitable failure or is it better to simply remain silent?

Mickle Maher is a cofounder of Theatre Oobleck, and has been a playwright/adaptor/translator for 20 years. He has authored eight plays for Oobleck, including The Strangerer (funded by a grant from Creative Capital), Spirits to Enforce, and The Hunchback Variations. Other plays include Cyrano (translator) and The Cabinet for Redmoon Theater, and Lady Madeline for Steppenwolf Theatre Company. Maher’s works have been produced throughout the country and in Europe.

In 2008, The Catastrophic Theatre produced Maher's The Strangerer and Spirits to Enforce to both popular and critical acclaim. The Houston Chronicle called Maher "one of the most original voices in American theatre today."