The Horror in the Theater: an H.P. Lovecraft Triptych of Terror, Open Circle Theater, Seattle, Washington, USA (November 7, 2003)

The other evening, I saw three Lovecraft stories adapted for the stage.

I learned a few things from the experience:

  1. No stage production of Lovecraft should ever take itself too seriously. This is the kiss of death.
  2. Puppets, however good, will never quite cut it. They should be used sparingly and in low light, or with full consciousness of the cheese factor, or both.
  3. Nobody knows what a trapezehedron looks like.

For those who don't know, Howard Phillip Lovecraft was a gentleman from Providence, Rhode Island who wrote some truly excellent horror in the first half of the twentieth century. His creepy tales of Things from Beyond the Universe, and particularly his inventive Cthulhu Mythos stories, have influenced many writers who are favorites here at Green Man, including Marion Zimmer Bradley, Neil Gaiman, and Roger Zelazny.

This production had three different stories, each with its own director, but it had one unified cast. This actually succeeded in holding the whole thing together nicely, despite the differences in directorial styles.

From Beyond, adapted by Lyam White, directed by Matt Fontaine

The Hunter of the Dark, adapted and directed by Rob D'Art The Dunwich Horror, adapted and directed by Ron Sandahl

Seattle's Open Circle Theater is a tiny little space, with perhaps a total of fifty seats and the front row actually sitting on the stage. The stage itself is a postage stamp, requiring lots of creative blocking and sets. It is very much the type of theater I've always wanted to work in myself, as the limitations of space and budget force everyone involved to be even more creative to make up for it.

You might say that the qualities of the show as a whole could be boiled down to the Good, the Bad, and the Pleasantly Cheesy:

The Good:

The Bad:

The Pleasantly Cheesy:

I had a marvelous time that evening, and very strange dreams that night. And, really, what else can you ask for from Lovecraftian theater?

[Rebecca Scott]

The Open Circle Theater has a Web site.
These sites give more information on H.P. Lovecraft and his works: