UCSB’s Arts & Lectures will unveil the West Coast premiere of “The Infernal Comedy: Confessions of a Serial Killer,” starring John Malkovich, tonight at 8 p.m. in Santa Barbara’s Granada Theatre.
The play uses arias and monologues to depict the true story of serial killer Jack Unterweger, who was sentenced to life for murdering a girl and went on to kill 11 more women after receiving parole for his apparent rehabilitation. The performance includes two sopranos representing the voices of the victims and a Baroque orchestra to blend opera, theater and music.
In addition to theatrics, Arts & Lectures and Carsey-Wolf Center will host a free talk entitled “Staging a Serial Killer” at 2 p.m. today in the Pollock Theater, during which Malkovich, writer/director Michael Sturminger and musical director Martin Haselböck will discuss the preparation that goes into perfecting such a performance.
According to Arts & Lectures senior writer and publicist Karna Hughes, Malkovich’s performance accurately portrays the killer’s enigmatic personality and mentality.
“With a voice that purrs with menace, Malkovich recreates this deadly Don Juan — a man both charming and utterly manipulative,” Hughes said in a press release. “‘The Infernal Comedy’ is an intriguing and innovative rendering of, as Malkovich puts it, ‘a bad, bad guy.’”
Hughes said Malkovich’s performance in the show highlights his extensive background and ability to transform into characters whose personas are difficult to recreate.
“Actor, producer and director John Malkovich has appeared in more than 70 motion pictures,” Hughes said in the press release. “He received Academy Award nominations for his roles in ‘Places in the Heart’ and ‘In the Line of Fire.’ By turns seductive, menacing and psychologically complex, his characterizations have defined him as one of the consummate performers of his generation.”
The play, which has been performed throughout Europe and selectively in the U.S., is set to the works of Mozart, Vivaldi, Beethoven and several other composers as it recounts Unterweger’s autobiography “Purgatory – a trip to prison.”
Fourth-year anthropology major Samantha Coughran said she feels the play will be an opportune context to highlight Malkovich’s theatrical versatility.
“I love John Malkovich and his roles,” Coughran said. “His ability to invoke emotions through his acting makes me re-evaluate the way actors perform. I’m surprised he has never won an Academy Award, but I’m always glad to see him in a movie.”
Tickets range from $43 to $153 for the general public and are $28 for UCSB students with valid IDs. Contact Arts & Lectures at (805) 893-3535 or purchase online at www.artsandlectures.ucsb.edu. Tickets are also available through The Granada Theatre at (805) 899-2222 or granadasb.org.