The Pine

This one’s been a long time in the making and we’ve been talking it up since The MAP Fund awarded Catastrophic a grant to commission a new play by Chicago playwright Mickle Maher, a favorite to Catastrophic artists and audiences.

Set in the ghost of an old hotel, a way station between alive and dead, The Pine follows our sad hero Gordon as he attempts to rescue his girlfriend and piano teacher Danelle from a place of eternal grieving. Having lost Danelle to suicide one year prior Gordon attempts to follow in her footsteps only to find he is trapped in a magic hotel of infinite rooms, each more sorrowful than the last. His charge is to find Danelle and check them both out. The hotel has been magicked to defy death and provide a place of eternal grieving for those that have lost their greatest loves.

An extraordinary comic and a genuine heartbreaker, Maher draws from a variety of unlikely sources to create something much greater than the sum of its parts. The Pine counts among its influences Dante’s Inferno, the poetry of Emily Dickinson, the graphic novels of Neil Gaiman, and the myth of Eurydice and Orpheus.

A fairy story or parlor tale in style, told entirely in verse, The Pine is populated by a middle-class nineteenth century hotel proprietor; a nine-foot tall, green bellhop; the knight Morris the Hesitant; demons, monsters, and countless lost souls; and Gordon’s only friend in this hell, a common housefly.

A book club discussion of The Unread Book. A boy born of echoes. A song, haunting the hotel, that even angels would get wrong. Mysterious counterfeits of lost loves known as Deer Hearts.

The Pine is like a picture book; it is like a living, breathing graphic novel. It is a tale of a sad hotel with a happy ending in a place without end, a place that resides in the great waters and tiny waves of Lake Michigan.


Unlike most Catastrophic productions, The Pine contains no strong language or sexual situations and should be ok for most children.


The Pine is funded in part by a grant from the MAP Fund, a program of Creative Capital
supported by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

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."