by Ed Malin · February 22, 2015
It’s good to know that creepy is still funny. The carnival freak in all of us will find something to enjoy about Erik by John Patrick Bray, directed by Jerrod Bogard. Frigid Festival veterans Rising Sun Performance Company (Akia Squitieri, Founding Artistic Director) are presenting this Schadenfreude-smörgåsbord at the Kraine. If you grew up with Dark Shadows or similar heavy-handed productions whose special effect-beasts were (on further examination) puppets, you might laugh at Erik. But don’t laugh at Erik too much, because there’s a phantom of a chance he might come and get you.
The Barker (Yair Ben-Dor) and Madam Giry (Destiny Shegstad) torment each other while they beckon the audience to enter their traveling menagerie of oddities. There is a human baby in a cage, and it’s hilarious. But meanwhile on the vulgar end of the continuum, Meg (Samantha DeSimone) and Josef (Chris Behan) do the grunt work. Meg dreams of romance (and she and Josef apparently deal with a venereal disease) bestowed by a person of quality. The maidenly diva-ette Christine (Montana Lampert Hoover) wishes for the return of her man after several years. Raoul (Bryn Packard) enters, caparisoned like a man, and admits Christine taught him how to act like a man. Namely, to leave and to see the world. Well, now that these flawed personages (who are nothing like us…) are all together in one place, it seems only fair that they will be punished. A cruel predator, Erik (Kervin Peralta, puppeteer) will assuredly find melodramatic opportunities to haunt them. Erik is discovered at a woman’s breast and many other places one flinches to imagine him. You can join the Detective (Matt Pepitone) in trying to outthink Erik, but faster than you can say Gaston Leroux, the joke’s on you.
It is a deceptively small production, which Jak Prince’s lighting design clarifies like butter. Ian Wehrle adds booming sound to rival Antonio Consuegra and Ashleigh Herndon’s beau brummell of a costume design. In this show the puppets (designed by Kervin Peralta and Jerrod Bogard) take the cherished ideal of humanity and run with it. Catch up with them if you can.