Tension Runs High in Tormenting the Hen
Saturday night the New Hampshire Film Festival had the privilege to show Tormenting the Hen as part of its selection of New Hampshire program films. Director Theodore Collatos and actress Carolina Monnerat stopped by the Music Hall Loft for a Q&A session after the screening.
Playwright Claire comes to the Berkshires where a local theater is set to perform her latest work. She brings along, somewhat reluctantly, her fiancé Monica. At first, the rural countryside provides a refreshing change of pace for two NYC dwellers, but an encounter with Mutty, their enigmatic neighbor, prompts Monica’s insecurity to come to the surface. Feeling increasingly alone and threatened, she brings to question her future with Claire and, later, her own sanity.
Dameka Hayes delivers confident portrayal of Claire, who is composed, career-driven, and devoted to her work. She freezes when Monica begins to speak of marriage and passionately defends the idea of children when her fiancé criticizes them. Monica is more spontaneous and emotional, a difference which begins to drive a wedge between two women. Though Mutty annoys them with his lack of social boundaries, he is essentially harmless. In the end, it is the inherent tensions between Claire and Monica that explode, harming people around them.
The audience was curious about the parallels between the characters and the real people they may be based on. Collatos recounted that his inspiration for the movie was a noisy neighbor who caused him and Monnerat (the two are married in real life) a lot of discomfort. This organically developed into an idea for a movie about judging someone without knowing their circumstances. Speaking about the extent to which the character of Claire is based on Collatos himself, the director said the connection is not direct. Being a woman, Claire faces different struggles trying to establish herself as a writer. Collatos also assured the audience, that while Claire appears to be abusive to her partner, he and Monnerat are in a happy relationship. In fact, the couple filmed Tormenting the Hen almost on their own, over six days on location in the Berkshires.
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