The Dark ComedyHookman Presented by COS in Visalia

Nov 13, 2019 | 2019 Articles, Lorie Lewis Ham, Theatre

by Lorie Lewis Ham

The College of the Sequoias in Visalia has a new play entitled Hookman opening this weekend, so we took a moment to chat with its director Chris Mangels, who is also a Professor of Theatre and Cinema Arts at COS.

KRL: What is Hookman about?

Chris: To get into too much detail would (potentially) spoil some of the surprises so I will give you our official byline:

“Freshman year at college is hard when your roommate is self-absorbed, you’re feeling homesick, and a hook-handed serial killer may or may not be lurking in the backseat of your car… But if Lexi can discover what really happened to her best friend on the way to the movies, surely everything will be okay. In this startlingly unique modern satire, Lexi and her friends learn what it means to grow up – and it is NOT pretty! A hilarious, terrifying, and shockingly insightful work of theatrical alchemy, Hookman simultaneously dissects the slasher genre while revealing the very real fears that inspire it.”


Haley Wallace as Jess and Kayla Seffing as Lexi in “Hookman”

KRL: Why was this show chosen for the COS season?

Chris: I saw it at CalPoly a couple of years ago and absolutely loved it. It is such an interesting genre mashup (satirical comedy / slasher horror / existentialist drama) and I thought that it REALLY spoke what I perceive as the Millennial/GenZ experience in the most fresh and relevant way. After I asked a few of my students to read it and found that they loved it and thought it resonated, I knew it would be the perfect production for us to tackle.

KRL: Are you directing it?

Chris: Yes. I am Director, Sound Designer, and Co-Projection Designer for Hookman

KRL: Are there any special challenges to directing this show?

Chris: The show switches tone and narrative focus quite often so we have worked toward establishing a consistently stylistic point-of-view. At times, it is very surreal (nightmarish, actually) so we decided to play it as honestly and naturalistically as possible, trusting in the surreal moments to make themselves known rather than working to make it ‘extra-surreal’. I like to let the text do the heavy lifting when possible and avoid ‘gilding the lily’.

KRL: What do you like best about directing this show?

Chris: Despite its genre-defying sensibilities, at its heart, it is a play that is addressing the many fears that young people, particularly women, deal with every day, including the hardships involved in finding human connections in a highly distractible world.

KRL: Any familiar faces in the cast?

Chris: Kayla Seffing (Bullets Over Broadway, Picasso at the Lapin Agile, Animal Farm) is the main character while Nick Lambert (Macbeth, Three Musketeers) plays Hookman. New faces include Haley Wallace, Reese Herron, Noelle Robbins, and Megan Lacey.


Nick Ray as The Hookman.

KRL: Dates, times, tickets?

Chris: Friday, 11/15 @ 7:30pm
Saturday, 11/16 @ 7:30pm
Sunday, 11/17 @ 1:00pm
Thursday, 11/21 @ 6:30pm – $8 tickets for students of ALL ages / Audience Talkback after the show
Friday, 11/22 @ 7:30pm
Saturday, 11/23 @ 7:30pm
Sunday, 11/24 @ 1:00pm
$14 General / $12 Senior / $10 Student
Purchase online at
COS Theatre Box Office – Open 45 minutes prior to performance, 559-730-3907
Rated PG-13 for Mature Themes, Simulated Violence, and Adult Language

KRL: Anything you would like to add?

Chris: I love this play, this cast, and this production, but I am most excited about the varying perspectives each of my collaborators (particularly the young women in the company) have on what is happening in the show and how it resonates in their personal life. It has been an incredibly eye-opening experience for me, and one I will never forget. I hope the audience finds the performance to be as revelatory an experience as the rehearsal process has been for me.

KRL: What are the other shows coming up this season?

Chris: December 12, 2019, at 7:30 p.m., I will be performing a staged reading of my one-man version of A Christmas Carol on the COS Stage as a fundraiser for our Spring Productions. $12 General, $10 Seniors, $8 Students. Tickets go on sale Friday, November 29.
• February 7-8, 2020, The Artistic Company (our student-run group) will be presenting our KCACTF (Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival) Showcase, featuring all of the monologues, scenes, songs, and devised theatre pieces that our students are preparing for this year’s festival.
• March 6-15, 2020: Stupid F**king Bird, by Aaron Posner (Based on The Seagull by Anton Chekhov), Directed by Chris Mangels
• April 24-May3, 2020: Matilda, The Musical, Music and Lyrics by Tim Minchin, based on the book by Roald Dahl; Directed by James McDonnell.

If you love local theatre, be sure to check out Mysteryrat’s Maze Podcast, which features mysteries read by local actors. You can find the podcast on iTunes/Apple Podcasts Spotify, and Google Play, and also on Podbean.

Check out more theatre reviews & other local entertainment articles in our Arts & Entertainment section.

Lorie Lewis Ham is our Editor-in-Chief and a contributor to various sections, coupling her journalism experience with her connection to the literary and entertainment worlds. Explore Lorie’s mystery writing at Mysteryrat’s Closet.


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