Theatre Advenure! (You are fighting a Black Box)
First up was "The King's Proposal" at Cornservatory. Totally delightful. Just a late night, shoe-string panto version of a servant comedy, where identity is super-fluid and mistakes are a way of life. It was notable for having two pairs of royally separated lovers, one gay and one straight, and for the sly performance of the evil King (who shows his philanthropy by releasing orphans into the wild). Just a happy, crazy place where you can make a puppet out of your dead best friend, where a dress can change a man into a woman, and a pair of glasses can change him back again. Funny, but about half an hour too long....
Hence, we were 9 minutes late to the next show "Hack/Slash" at the National Pasttime. Yes, it's just a late-night bit of Halloween fluff with spraying blood that you can attend drunk, and NO, it wasn't good enough. The two leads, a Buffy knock-off and her slavic monster sidekick, were fantastic- deep snarky voices, and comic-book good looks. But the majority of the other actors had no idea what they were doing- and didn't even manage to make their performances entertainly bad. Also...
The set changes. Scenes were short... never more than thirty seconds, and often only about five. (I don't think they bothered to change a word from the comic books). True example of a scene change. "We need to talk" (blackout... actors shuffle around in total silence, moving furniture. Lights up. Actors commence talking. No, this was not played for laughs. Wouldn't have been so bad, except every scene change entailed moving several unneeded black boxes, in silence, for a period almost as long as the preceding scene. I wanted to leap on stage, steal the cap gun, and shout "The next actor who even touches a black box will be shot!" This would have improved the play considerably.
And yet, people seemed to like it ok. Perhaps no-one had told them that pop theatre can be just as good and fast moving as pop cinema, if the people who put it on have a clue. Didn't any of you people see "Curse of the Crying Heart?" Sheesh.
So, if you tend to get annoyed by really, really stupid stagecraft, but still want some Halloween happiness, skip Hack/Slash and catch the same company's midnight burlesque show, Vamp, also at the National Pastime. Vampire strippers, zombie MC, and a really very limited use of black-boxes.
Cornservatory: A small stage, but well equipped with levels, and multiple exits. It appears to have been painted by a demented third-grader, which is great for a very specific type of show.
National Pastime: A medium-cavernous black box with all of this white plaster detailing, and, I think, a 20 foot fake fireplace. I sort of love it.