The Alley Theater has a collection of short plays within their second annual Inhumana: A Festival of New American Undead Theater. This collection, appropriately titled The Bits and Pieces, covers all genres from light and comedic farce to dark and sinister. This is a showcase that takes theater back to basics with small casts, simple sets and things that go bump in the night; it is by far the most entertaining night of theater I have seen at the Alley Theater.
To Kill a Zombie, The Possethsionand Fang carry a lighter, comedic tone. As a couple of lone survivors in a Walking Dead-type of zombie infestation, Jamie Shannon and Felicia Casey Stewart play well together in To Kill a Zombie. Where one survivor fends off the undead with a baseball bat, the other forms a tequila-drenched zombie conga line. To think, zombies have enough rhythm in their decrepit forms that they can move and sway to the beat. The conga line is indeed humorous and these zombies re-appear in between scenes to strike set pieces. At times, these “Tequila”-infused set changes created comic relief for heavier moments within the short plays, other times it felt a bit unnecessary, especially after pieces that carried great tension. Secondly, The Exorcist is given a modern-day makeover as parents decide they’d rather keep their daughter under the possession in The Possethsion. As the possessed daughter, Rachel Caudel was quite a sight to see as she switched from a guttural growl to her natural feminine timber all the while gyrating in the midst of flashing lights. Fang places a vampire in a dentist’s office, where Joey Arena and Jamie Shannon play a mismatched odd couple in a silly sex comedy. Arena’s vampire is silly while remaining seductive and mysterious.
In the midst of these comedic short plays are two pieces that are haunting, with just enough terror to get your heart to beat a little faster. The Masque of the Red Death is a retelling of Edgar Allan Poe’s story. Creepy and weird, this movement piece was a mesmerizing display of choral recitation. Plus the masks increased the weirdness tenfold. This is immediately followed by Darkness, a quick, intense scene set in pitch black in which a man talks to the monster under his bed. I will admit that I checked underneath my bed after I came home after the play. Lastly there’s Bedford’s Sty, which brought the classic Vincent Price films to mind. Not exactly scary or eerie, but it explores the hell we create for ourselves. This play has taken elements of comedy and thrown in moments of psychological thrills and created a piece that culminates not only the collection of plays within The Bits and Pieces but also the entire Inhuman Festival occurring at the Alley Theater.
The Bits and Pieces
Part of the Inhumana: A Festival of New American Undead Theater
Tim & Dair Mathistad
Katie & Chris Haulter
Kathy Todd Chaney
Angie Reed Garner