offoffoff theater
 RELATED PROJECTS

      







 ADVERTISEMENT













Site links
  • OFFOFFOFF Home
  • About OFFOFFOFF
  • Contact us

    Get our newsletter:
     
    Search the site:
     

    Theater section
  • Theater main page
  • Theater archive
  • Theater links


    Current theater


  • Fall Briefs
  • Nick

    Archive


    Complete archive, 1999-present

    2008-2009 reviews:
  • Anaïs Nin Goes To Hell
  • ANGER/NATION
  • beast: a parable
  • Blanche Survives Katrina in a FEMA Trailer Named Desire
  • Blasted
  • Buffalo Gal
  • China: The Whole Enchilada
  • The Corn Maiden
  • Crawl, Fade to White
  • Doruntine
  • Extraordinary Rendition
  • The First Breeze of Summer
  • Fringe Festival 2008
  • Fringe Festival favorites
  • The Glass Cage
  • Hair
  • Hidden Fees* (A Play About Money)
  • Jailbait
  • King of Shadows
  • The Longest Running Joke of the Twentieth Century
  • Lucasville: The Untold Story of a Prison Uprising
  • Macbeth
  • The Master Builder
  • Missa Solemnis, or The Play About Henry
  • Mourn the Living Hector
  • A Nasty Story
  • Nowadays
  • the october crisis (to laura)
  • Oresteia
  • Other Bodies
  • Prayer
  • Psalms of a Questionable Nature
  • Raised by Lesbians
  • Reasonable Doubt
  • Sleepwalk With Me
  • Small Craft Warnings
  • Something Weird . . . in the Red Room
  • Soul Samurai
  • The Sound of One Hanna Clapping
  • Southern Promises
  • The Third from the Left
  • Twelfth Night
  • Voices from Guantánamo
  • The Wendigo
  • Zombie

  •  REVIEW: SOMETHING WEIRD . . . IN THE RED ROOM

    Something Weird . . . in the Red Room

    Whimsigoth

    With "Something Weird... in the Red Room," director Rachel Klein brings yet another kooky-creepy vision of the supernatural to usher in the Halloween season.


    Low expectations often lead to pleasant surprises. When you're expecting a show to be a disaster, a little cleverness and competence go a long way towards sweetening the evening.

      
    SOMETHING WEIRD . . . IN THE RED ROOM
    Written by: Benjamin Spiro and Sean Gill.
    Directed by: Rachel Klein.
    Cast: "Sir Sheever:" Abigail Hawk, Candy Bloise, Kari Warchock, Megan O'Connor, Michael Porsche, and Ted Caine. "Aenigma:" Bret Jaspers, Christopher Loar, Claire Sansaricq, Dasha Kittredge, Elizabeth Stewart, Jillaine Gill, and Rob Richardson..
    Choreography by: Rachel Klein.
    Music by: Sean Gill and John Gill.
    Sound design by: Rachel Klein and Sean Gill.
    Costumes by: Emily Dorwart and Rachel Klein.
    Lighting design by: Lisa Soverino.
    Production stage manager: Lizz Giogos and Marina Steinberg.
    Makeup Designer:: Anita Rundles.
    Costume Consultant: Emily Taradash.
     SCHEDULE
    The Red Room
    85 East 4th St. near 2nd Ave.
    Oct. 7-31, 2008

    By the time the house lights dimmed, I was expecting to find "Something Weird... in the Red Room" irritating. It wasn't just that I'd had a long day, or that the logistical problems endemic to the Red Room had kept the audience lined up single file on a narrow stairway while patrons of KGB Bar kept passing through to relieve themselves of Baltika Ale in the dingy bathroom. It wasn't just that the fans in the Red Room are loud enough to force any director working there to choose between audience comfort and creative control, and this director had chosen the latter. All of these things are to be expected from an off-off-Broadway show. Arguably, they are part of the charm of such productions, part of the ambience of the downtown theater scene.


      
    Directors and designers who spent high school imagining that they were Winona Ryder in "Beetle Juice" or fantasizing about Neil Gaiman's cheerful vision of Death, occasionally swath some downtown actors in crushed velvet and black lace, accented by heavy mascara and horizontally striped tights, and accompanied by a soundtrack of toy pianos playing slightly out-of-tune waltzes and lullabies  

      
    What had me worried was the list of "influences" included in director Rachel Klein's program bio: "Julie Taymor, Bob Fose, Tim Burton, Edward Gorey, and Dario Fo." Each of these artists is worthy of respect, of course, but together they add up to a style-over-substance approach that would make me nervous about any show. And because this was a Halloween-timed pair of comic/horror one-acts, the names Tim Burton and Edward Gorey made me particularly nervous, as did the cutesy-creepy music and the actors in vaguely Victorian-looking costumes that awaited the audience upon their belated entrance into the theater.

    Burton's Gorey-derived, whimsigoth aesthetic has long since worn thin, and even devolved into self-parody (though there continue to occasional bright spots in his oeuvre.) Directors and designers who spent high school imagining that they were Winona Ryder in "Beetle Juice" or fantasizing about Neil Gaiman's cheerful vision of Death, occasionally swath some downtown actors in crushed velvet and black lace, accented by heavy mascara and horizontally striped tights, and accompanied by a soundtrack of toy pianos playing slightly out-of-tune waltzes and lullabies. These productions spend all of their energy on creating an atmosphere, with little or no attention spent on character, story, or ideas.

    Director/Choregrapher Rachel Klein's "Something Weird... in the Red Room," is an evening of two gently macabre one-acts intended to usher in the Halloween season that falls into many of these traps but nevertheless maintains a considerable level of charm.

    The first play, Benjamin Spiro's "Sir Sheever," is by far the more successful, despite its relatively modest ambitions. Miss Elise (Kari Warchock) lives in a self-created fantasy world with four mannequins. When Ralph (Bret Haines) attempts to burglarize Elise's apartment, he finds himself trapped in a world that could potentially make him wealthy or, alternatively, get him killed. The twists and turns of the plot, all of which seem familiar from a Twlight Zone episode or a Vincent Price film, aren't particularly convincing, but the characters are clearly drawn and Klein has directed her actors into some admirable ensemble work. Haines and Warchock embrace their stock characters gamely, but it is the actos playing the mannequins who carry the show. Ted Caine and Abigail Hawk, as a lascivious schoolboy and an icy socialite respectfully, are particularly fun to watch.

      
      Director/Choregrapher Rachel Klein's "Something Weird... in the Red Room," is an evening of two gently macabre one-acts intended to usher in the Halloween season that falls into many of these traps but nevertheless maintains a considerable level of charm.
      
    Sean Gill's "Aenigma" rounds out the evening and, while it should be praised for unpredictability and perversity, falls flat. While "Sir Sheever" hews too closely to its inspirations, "Aenigma" seems at times to be a parody of an original that has never existed. The winking, self-conscious attitude of the piece seems to say "I know it's ridiculous, but isn't it creeeeepy?" which results in moments that are neither particularly funny nor particularly scary. It almost feels as if the entire play were written during a parlor game, wherein each person writes a sentence and then passes it to the left. The result, unfortunately, is not so much an exquisite corpse as a narrative mess.

    All in all, "Something Weird... in the Red Room" is an entertaining enough way to pass a couple of hours in the East Village this October. It's not as clever as the average Simpson's Halloween special, or as scary as the bathroom the Red Room shares with KGB Bar, but it might help get you in the mood for Halloween. Maybe you'll even spring for the good trick-or-treat candy this year instead of sticking your little visitors with those mini-packs of candy corn and Necco wafers you always hated when you were a kid.

    OCTOBER 17, 2008
    OFFOFFOFF.COM • THE GUIDE TO ALTERNATIVE NEW YORK



    Post a comment on "Something Weird . . . in the Red Room"