Chicago Theater Review: SCARY TALES 2015 (Clock Productions at the Alley Stage)

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by Lawrence Bommer on January 16, 2015

in Theater-Chicago


Calling your 75-minute compilation Scary Stories 2015 puts the premium on terror, a concept or condition that’s hard to compete with real life. In the thoughtfully paradoxical style of the dusky Twilight Zone series, which can offer food for fear as much as thought, these eight sketches—written, adapted and directed by David Denman—are stimulating more than terrifying.

The most elaborate offering, “Under the Dome,” takes a tad too long to depict a smug member of the Mensa-like “High Foreheads Club.” Anticipating an apocalypse, this egghead manages to dilate time. Hidden in the title shelter, the self-absorbed, 28-year-old cerebral survivor (Andrew Buel) only ages 4 years while the world suffers 30. But, as the wry tale ends and he emerges into a paradisical utopia, turning 32 is two years too many.

The second most developed offering, “The Monsters of War,” considers the delayed (as in PTSD) effects of World War I combat on several soldiers in the 1920s. There’s nothing new here—move right along, folks.

Astin Clark Smith’s “The Weird of Wuthoqquan” has fun with a moneylending vizier (Ben Powell) whose greed for precious stones leads him to the wrong cave. Equally whimsical, “Rage Blossoms” imagines a lethal orchid that’s the worst bouquet ever to offer a beloved in 1890 (or ever). “Will There Be Tigers” is vintage Arthur C. Clarke as it presents two schoolgirls in 1899 who blithely ponder the possibility of parallel worlds offering infinite possibilities. Tragically, one of them involves a tiger.

Finally, “Strangers Have the Best Candy” and “The College Party,” trade in that hoary cliché of the escaped lunatic from an asylum who shortens the lives of victims worthy to be corpses. Here the emissary of evil is dressed incongruously as the Easter Bunny. You didn’t have to be there.

At least none of these shrunken stories outstays its welcome. But a few too many are perversely efficient at not delivering the goods, however promising the premises. These eight young actors acquit themselves well, but their scare tactics never really push the panic button.

Scary Tales 2015
Clock Productions
Alley Stage, 4147 N. Broadway
Thurs-Sat at 8; Sun at 3
ends on February 8, 2015
for tickets, visit Brown Paper Tickets
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