Review: ArtsWest’s ‘Frozen’ and its psychologically icebound world of a killer

In “Frozen” at ArtsWest, Seattle actor Peter Crook reprises his role as a British serial killer, along with excellent performances by Amy Thone and Jonelle Jordan.

According to Dante’s “Inferno,” the lowest pit of hell isn’t made of fire — it’s made of ice.

Unlike the other sinners in the “Inferno,” the worst of the worst are trapped in a frozen lake, unable to speak, contorted in painful postures for all of eternity where Satan weeps and chews endlessly with three mouths on the bodies of Judas, Brutus and Cassius: three of the greatest traitors in the European canon.

A weeping Satan in ice is a fitting image to pair with “Frozen,” the 1998 play by Bryony Lavery about the abduction of a 10-year-old girl in England.

Theater review

‘Frozen’

Through May 14, ArtsWest, 4711 California Ave. S.W.; Seattle $17-$37.50 (206-938-0339 or artswest.org).

“Frozen” is told with three voices: the mother (Amy Thone) of the abducted girl, the serial killer (Peter Crook) who lured the girl into his car, and the psychologist (Jonelle Jordan) studying the killer for a research project on how horrific crimes might simply be a symptom of brain damage, rather than evidence of evil.

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The play is intense, but the staging (by director Matthew Wright and lead designer Cristopher Mumaw) significantly keys up the tension. The audience is seated, tennis-court style, in three rows opposite each other to watch the action — and each other. The stage is broken into three high platforms so that, in its most harrowing moments (when the killer is luring a girl into his van or when the mother is having a breakdown), we are, like Dante, mere feet away from powerful characters exhorting powerful, but sometimes unexpected emotions.

“Frozen” is made of deft interruptions and reversals. The grieving mother has a bitter sense of humor, using her daughter’s…

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