It’s really great to wake up in Oklahoma and realize that, culturally speaking, everything is getting better. Halloween is around the corner, and while my little circle of friends and I usually spend weekends in October traversing the state looking for the best haunted houses, something a little closer to home starts this weekend. Reduxion Theatre Company’s Night of Grand Guignol!
Seven vignettes and a burlesque show are split between Friday and Saturday nights every weekend this month, with scripts adapted from Guignol plays all written around the turn of the century. Timothy Berg directs, and puts on a great show. The pace is lively and the adaptations of the original scripts keep everyone guessing. Lee Brasuell achieves quite a bit through the lighting design—a necessity for keeping things creepy. Ryan Healy’s original music also contributes to the atmosphere, and Lloyd Cracknell’s costumes are fantastic, especially for the Burlesque! Production Stage Manager Catherine Pitt does a great job with the props design and Berg and Aaron Marcovy work wonders with the scene design.
There isn’t room here to go over each vignette, but there are a few things that definitely deserve pointing out. The first vignette, “Jack,” features a great performance by Susan Riley. Before the Friday show, I heard a lot of buzz about ”The Lighthouse Keepers”. Not only does this vignette demonstrate one of the central themes that make Grand Guinol unique—sacrifice versus selfishness—it is superbly produced and acted by Sue Ellen Reiman and Rachael Barry. My favorite part, though, may be Barry’s heartrending ukulele cover of Danzig’s “Mother,” which is amazing in so many ways. “Chop-Chop” seems a little drawn out, but the payoff is worth it, and Katie Barnett is hilarious as the interpreter.
The Saturday night shows up the ante a little. “The Final Kiss” is legitimately scary, with Jeremy Lister and Susan Riley convincingly portray a very messed up couple. “Tics, or Doing the Deed” is easily the most entertaining vignette, fully of bawdy jokes, spouse swapping and physical manifestations of mental quirks, with great performances by Ian Clinton and Tyler Waits. Also, “A Burlesque Show” is fantastic. The original concept is Berg’s, and the music, dancing and acting are by turns provocative and hilarious. David Fletcher-Hall and Barry do an excellent cover of the Dresden Dolls “Coin Operated Boy”. Clinton and Reiman are the MCs Friday and Saturday nights respectively, and do an excellent job of moving things along and warming up the crowd. The Saturday night shows also feature Twinprov and Zoom, two troupes from OKC Improv, keeping the crowd entertained through intermission and after the show.
And there is a crowd. Both shows that I attended were sold out (seats actually had to be added for the Saturday show). The show runs Friday and Saturday nights throughout October at 8PM, with a bonus midnight show on Saturday the 27th, at the Broadway Theater Definitely make an effort to see both shows. Visit RTC or call 405.651.3191 for tickets.