Those who know me know what a fan I am of sci-fi and horror. Those are two genres that are not well-served when it comes to live theater, and that’s why I’m such a huge fan of The Alley Theater in general and their “Inhuman: A Festival of New American Undead Theater” in particular.
In its second year, the festival presents a series of plays featuring vampires, zombies, and other things that go bump in the night. My little black heart beats a little faster at the thought. On this past Saturday, I got to witness one of the plays presented this season, and was re-introduced to the great H.P. Lovecraft’s Old Ones. It was a welcome experience, to say the least.
Goblin Universe stars Sterling Pratt as Miskatonic University graduate Howard Phillips (as Lovecraftian as they come), a reporter on the trail of a cryptozooligical creature he has tracked to an adult bookstore. He discovers the creature in the peep show booth disguised as a stripper in a policewoman costume (Vanessa Card).
It gets weirder. We soon find out that Phillips can see the Old Ones, Lovecraft’s mythological beings who have existed longer than man’s history, older even than Christianity. He lives with Loveland Frog (Todd Zeigler), an amphibious creature that ends up sleeping with Phillips’ alcoholic landlady (Katie Dearmond). In due course we also get introduced to the Mothman, the Jersey Devil (both played by Dan Canon), and Bigfoot (Joey Arena), among others.
How all of this ties in with a mentally unbalanced homeless man (James Reid) and the adult bookstore’s proprietor (Lucien Tomes Jr.) must be seen to be believed.
More of a comedy than a horror story, the play is nevertheless creepy and never failed to hold my interest. The monster costumes were a bit crude, but the masks were nicely detailed. The whole thing clipped along at a nice pace set by director Zeigler, and featured an impressive sound design by Jon Ryan and Scott Davis.
The only thing that did not work for me was a rather silly attempt at a Morgan Freeman impersonation that sounded more like Cleveland Brown. If this was intentional, I didn’t get the joke.
Overall though, this was a fun bit of unusual theater, leaving me wanting more. Luckily, there are plenty more shows to see in this year’s Inhuman festival. Bring ‘em on!
Starring Joey Arena, Dan Canon, Vanessa Card, Scott Davis, Katie Dearmond, Sterling Pratt, James Reid, Tony Smith, Lucien Tomes Jr., Todd Zeigler.
Part of Inhuman: A Festival of New American Undead Theatre
Tim & Dair Mathistad
Katie & Chris Haulter
Kathy Todd Chaney
Angie Reed Garner