Thrillpeddlers ‘Shocktoberfest 13’ delivers Grand Guignol chills and thrills

(Charles Kruger)

(Rating: 3/5 » Recommended)

This reviewer is a member of the San Francisco Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle (SFBATCC)

Do you love Halloween? Then grab your broomstick and a pumpkin and head out to The Hypnodrome where Thrillpeddlers offers “Shocktoberfest 13: The Bride of Death”, a delightfully ghoulish goulash of Grand Guignol humor and horror.

Thrillpeddlers artistic director, Russell Blackwood, is the nation’s leading practitioner of Grand Guinol and the yearly Shocktoberfest is his flagship claim to that grizzly fame.

This year’s shocking selection of original work includes “Coals of Fire”, “The Bride of Death”, and “The Twisted Pair” plus two humorous musical interludes (“I’m a Mummy” and “Those Beautiful Ghouls”) as well as Hypnodrome’s famous spook show in which phantoms float through the air of a totally dark theatre in gleeful gory gyrations.

In Frederick Whitney’s “Coals of Fire”, Leigh Crow (Nancy  French on alternate nights) plays The Wife whose paid companion is having an affair with her husband. Crow is a riot as she teases the young girl with the possibility of forgiveness before the horrifying denouement involving those titular coals.

Thrillpeddlers presents “Shocktoberfest 13: The Bride of Death” through November 17 at The Hypnodrome. Poster design by Jim Jeske & Scrumbly Koldewyn.

Michael Phillis’ delicious “Bride of Death” is the main event. It involves a spooky mansion, a mad doctor, a mysteriously ageless actress, somebody locked in an attic (I think) and a hapless journalist. Phillis’ delivers his usual fine writing and a funny performance as well.

In Rob Keefe’s “The Twisted Pair”, Russell Blackwood and Flynn DeMarco pull out all the stops as a pair of mad scientists driven to insanity by a lust for research money and hallucinogenic glue. Twisted is an understatement.

The musical interludes are full of wit and feature standout performances by Jim Jeske and Annie Larson as Mr. and Mrs. Mummy.

Altogether, this show is more delicious than a bowlful of candied corn. Trick yourself out and give yourself a treat at The Hypnodrome.

“Shoctoberfest 13: The Bride of Death” continues through November 17. For further information, click here.

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“Shocktoberfest 13: The Bridge of Death”, presented by Thrillpeddlers.

“Coals of Fire” by Frederick Whitney, directed by Flynn DeMarco. The Wife: Leigh Crow (alternate Nancy French). The Companion: Zelda Koznofski.

“I’m A Mummy”, music and lyrics by Douglas Byng, directed and choreographed by Cindy Goldfield, accompanied by Steve Bolinger. Mr. Mummy: Jim Jeske. Mrs. Mummy: Annie Larson.

“The Bride of Death” by Michael Phillis, based on characters & story ideas by Flynn deMarco  Michael Phillis, directed by Russell Blackwood. Mrs. Offal: Nancy French. Ignatius: Rory Davis. Randolf Holcombe Flynn DeMarco. Timothy Truman: Michael Phillis. Evelyn Maxwell: Bonni Suval. Alistair Maxwell: Dalton Goulette. Dr. Stygian: Jim Jeske. Dr. Stygian: Jim Jeske. Roger Buntz: Zelda Koznofski. Cynthia: Zelda Koznofski. Governess: Annie Larson.

“Those Beautiful Ghouls”, music and lyrics by Scrumbly Koldewyn, directed and choreographed by D’Arcy Drollinger, accompanied by Steve Bolinger. Performed by Leigh Crow, Annie Larson, Nancy French, Zelda Koznofski, Bonni Suval, Michael Phillis, Andy Wenger, Dalton Goulette, Jim Jeske and Bruna Palmeiro.

“The Twisted Pair” by Rob Keefe, directed by Russell Blackwood & Flynn DeMarco. Earnest McKenzie: Russell Blackwood. Anthony Lark: Flynn DeMarco. Mrs. Delvinto: Lisa Appleyard. Flies and Rats: Michael Phillis and Rory Davis. Celeste Montaigne: Bonni Suval. Darcy: Nancy French. Leonor: Bruna Pameiro. Matheus: Dalton Goulette. Thiago: Andy Wenger.

Music Directionby Scrumbly Koldewyn. Scene Designer: James Blackwood. Costume Designer: Alice Cunt. Lighting Designer: Nicholaes Torre. Wigs & Make-Up: Flynn DeMarco. Special Effects Make-Up: Rob Fletcher. Spookshow and Special Effects: Nicholas Torre.

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