Comic Tragedy

The story begins with a random unfortunate incident: A woman, startled by a scream from a well, goes to check it out and falls in. Then she is catapulted into an excellent adventure. The conclusion? “‘Life is distracting and uncertain,’/She said and went to draw the curtain.” It's The Eleventh Episode, an homage to cult writer-illustrator Edward Gorey (who is often mentioned in the same long sentence as Charles “Addams Family” Addams, Lemony Snicket, and Tim Burton). Published anagrammatically in 1971 by Raddory Gewe, it's also the theme of this year's Edwardian Ball. Tonight's performers include Vernian Process (a genre-melding sextet inspired by steampunk pioneer and creepy sci-fi author Jules Verne), vaudevillian tricksters Fou Fou Ha!, and the mechanical sculptors of Kinetic Steam Works. It's hosted by saucy minstrel magicians Rosin Coven and sizzling dancer-acrobats Vau de Vire Society. Think vintage fetish meets circus theatrics meets industrial-arts mayhem. And the characters aren’t just on the stage. You can spend the whole night in the lobby ogling passersby, numerous of whom make their costumes specially for this night. (There's also Friday night's Edwardian World's Faire.) It’s all right out of a demented little storybook: Goreyfied San Francisco writ large.
Sat., Jan. 22, 8 p.m., 2011

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