Shocktoberfest!! 2000

Thrillpeddlers celebrate Halloween with three adaptations from the Grand Guignol

Never mind the Castro -- the best Halloween experience this year is at the Exit. There, the Thrillpeddlers celebrate the holiday in gruesome style with three scintillating adaptations from the Grand Guignol. And as if that weren't enough, they bridge the short pieces with the delectable Barefoot Beauties, Anna Laveria May and Paula Arciniega, who provide some shocking pajama-party-Barbie-Doll-hot-girl-on-girl-S&M-crush-fetish kink. (Here's hoping PETA is unaware of crush fetishes, or we'll have Kim Basinger agitating to shut the show down.) Sickos Russell Blackwood and Daniel Zilber are largely to blame -- Zilber adapted two of the plays and Blackwood directs two. The plays open with a warning that's both funny and unnerving: Every time the lights go down, you tense up. The first piece, "Brush with Death," features Blackwood hilariously overplaying as an obsessed artist whose work is obscured by the sick doings at the cemetery next door. "Wedding of the Member" is a Guignol comedy adapted by Robert Keefe. Perry Smith, as the severely dressed, poorly lipsticked Madame des Fallopiennes, forces her crippled daughter, Claret (Chloe Bronzan), into an arranged marriage with the only man who will have her, the effete, impotent Valere du Casque (Eric Johnson). His dysfunction disappears in an uproariously twisted denouement. Finally, there's an authentic discovery in "Orgy in the Lighthouse," Zilber's treatment of a 1956 Alfred Machard Guignol gothic. Genuinely creepy, this explicit story of two Catholic brothers whose night of debauchery leads to violence and retribution evokes unfeigned horror. Starring a talented, sexy cast -- including Bronzan, Lasse Christianson, the terrific Jennifer Reynolds, and Daniel Loeser, whose smooth looks shatter into psychosis -- and expertly directed by Blackwood, "Orgy" is a heady swirl of lust, religion, guilt, and murder. (The fight choreography by Greg Hoffman and Kimberly Davis Basso, along with the suggestive stage effects, enhance the disturbing atmosphere.) When this play ends, real ghosts linger in the air.

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