Weird Tales For Halloween by Hardcover Theater, performing at Bryant Lake Bowl

Timothy Joseph Daly and and Philip D. Henry in Weird Tales For Halloween. Hand portrayed by Arnie Roos. Photo by Ryan Ripley.

Let yourself be ushered into the shadowy and dusty confines of the ancient BLB theater.  A creaky wooden floor – is that the waitress?  I  hope so.   A blood red curtain.  An eerie 19th century organ.  Is that the distant crash of bowling pins, or is it… could it possibly be…?  Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!

I do adore Halloween, that celebration of all I hold dear – death, the supernatural, the reek of freshly opened graves.  And candy.  In honor of the season, Hardcover Theater is serving up the creepy Weird Tales For Halloween (at the Bryant Lake Bowl Theater, 810 West Lake St., Mpls, through Oct 31, tickets available through BrownPaperTickets.com).  Like all HT’s plays, these are close adaptations of literary material, from 1907, 19 and 28 respectively, and are presented without intermission.  There’s a dated, Victorian quality to the stories – which adds to their impact.

I’m going to refrain from telling you too much; each playlet revolves around a nifty trick and I’m loathe to reveal them.  The first play, The Beast With Five Fingers, has a tongue-in-cheek quality which nicely sucks us in, setting up the short but effective Luckundoo (and you thought the film Alien was original – ha).  The evening ends with The Dunwich Horror, an adaptation of a piece by the great H.P. Lovecraft.  This is the longest and easily the best play.  At the end of it, a… a… a…  Oh.  Oh, quelle horreur.  Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!

This is shoestring theater, so don’t expect ravishing sets, costumes or lights.  What you will get for the modest ticket price is some exceptional acting.  The multiple casting style allows the ensemble – Timothy Joseph Daly, Philip D. Henry, Brian Hesser, Ariel Pinkerton, Arnie Roos and Ben Tallen – to shine.  Everyone is good, but I need to single out and praise Ms. Pinkerton for adorably stern Librarian and, especially, Mr. Daly for his amazing falsetto Wilbur Whately.  The actors are ably directed by Steve Schroer (HT’s artistic director) and by Paul von StoezelJames Lekatz provides the scary underscoring.

Will it change your life?  No, but Weird Tales For Halloween is great fun and the beer at BLB is excellent.

For more info about John Olive check out his (recently updated) website.

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