Twin Cities Horror Festival XI Opening Night Reviews of Three Shows: Stabby Stab Stab, The Shrieking Harpies, and Gillman Genesis.

Stabby Stab Stab

Nissa Nordland Morgan and Kayla Dvorak Feld Photo by Ryan Lear

Stabby Stab Stab is a collaboration between two local favorite theater companies that attendees of The MN Fringe Festival and Twin Cities Horror Festival (TCHF) will know well, Special When Lit and the Winding Sheet Outfit. A dramatization of the 2014 true crime popularly known as “the Slender Man Stabbing” that focuses solely on the two 12 year old girls, Morgan Geyser and Anissa Weir who committed the heinous crime. The show is a reminder that people are more than the one worst thing they’ve done in their lives. It doesn’t try to excuse their actions but it does help put things in perspective and bring to the forefront that these were 12 year old children. We gain some understanding of the loneliness and the intense need to connect that the two girls whose inner world seems as real to them as the one outside their heads. It reminded me of the wonderful true crime based film by Peter Jackson Heavenly Creatures.

The girls are brought to vivid life by the shows Playwright Nissa Nordland Morgan as Morgan and Kayla Dvorak Feld as Anissa. Nordland Morgan brings her uncanny ability to play childlike without crossing over into cloying childishness. Her character is the one who stabs and her performance makes clear that the girl is young, naive and suffering from mental illness that has caused a relaxation of her grip on reality. Her script, the result of exhaustive research includes texts between the girls and even a short story written by Morgan. All of this is giving us a picture of the girls tween world view and it brings some modicum of understanding to such an unfathomable act. Dvorak Feld shows her range this month inhabiting a character so completely different from her performance earlier this month in Daleko Arts’ The Thin Place. I couldn’t be sure that it was the same actress until I got home and checked my program from the earlier show such is her transformation.

Stabby Stab Stab is backed with eerily appropriate live musical accompaniment by Derek Lee Miller and Sam Landman. The effective Lighting by Andre Johnson Jr. combined with the projections and Production Design by Director Amber Bjork make this the show to beat at season XI of the TCHF. The opening night performance was sold out and I saw a post on facebook this morning that there were only 8 seats left for Fridays performance. Given the talent and the popularity of the collaborative theatre companies as well as word of mouth I wouldn’t be at all surprised if this shows entire run, which is for this first weekend only, sells out.

​Remaining Show Times:
Friday, October 21st 9pm
Saturday, October 22nd 4:30pm
Sunday, October 23rd 6pm
Monday, October 24th 10:30pm

Ratings (1-5):

Language – 4
Violence – 3
Blood – 1
Suggested Age: 16+
Warning: Suicidal Ideation, Mental Illness

The Shrieking Harpies

Hannah Wydeven, Lizzie Gardner, Taj Ruler are The shrieking Harpies

The Shrieking Harpies is an improvisational musical performed by Lizzie Gardner, Taj Ruler, Hannah Wydeven, accompanied by Justin Nellis on keyboard. At the start of the show they have an audience member draw from a pumpkin horror theme and then ask for a name to be shouted out. Given these two prompts they improvise a comedic horror musical attempting to create a complete story with a beginning, middle, and end. I’ve said it before but musical improv terrifies me on behalf of the performers, but obviously these three thrive on that danger. They have the comedic and vocal gifts to pull it off. Because it is improve each performance will be unique. The performance I saw used the key word “Devil” and the name “Madeline” from there they use their talents and imaginations to create magic. As with all improve they rely on some established characters types that they can riff on. One of Wydeven’s characters is the horny teacher who’s late for a Tinder date, Ruler is an among others an adolescent with a voice that escaped from a Simpson’s episode, and Gardner is a single parent and overwhelmed by it as well as the inner voice of the Devil. Some of the best moments come when they crack each other up or in our show when Gardner actually scares Wydeven with that inner Devil voice. these shows are always filled with laughs but I’m also equally impressed each time with the quality of their vocals.

​Remaining Show Times
Saturday, October 22nd at 1:30pm
Tuesday, October 25th at 6pm
Friday, October 28th 7:30pm
Sunday, October 30th 4:30pm​

Ratings (1-5)
Language – 1
Violence – 1
Blood – 1
​Suggested Age: 13+

Reverend Matt’s Monster Science: Gillman Genesis (Milicent Patrick Variant)

Reverend Matt’s Monster Science is the banner under which Matthew Kessen performs comedic but factual lectures about Monsters. A staple of the festival, I first saw his lecture entitled Feminine Inhuman when I was covering the TCHF my first year of reviewing. This year the lecture is entitled Gillman Genesis but there is an interesting twist this year he has two different lectures that perform on different nights. The Milicent Patrick variant which I saw centers around the woman whose credit for creating The Creature From the Black Lagoon has only recently been restored after decades of being wrongly attributed to a her ego bruised white male boss. The second variant which I don’t have scheduled but will try and catch focuses on contemporary horror master Guillermo del Toro who created his own Gillman for his masterful film The Shape of Water. I won’t give away any of the details I’ll just say that I find these lectures to be highly enjoyable. As a fan of monsters who poured over books about monsters, particularly the old Universal Studio Monsters as a kid I feel a kindred spirit with Rev. Matt. His love of his subject matter and his wit drive these fun filled lectures.

​Remaining Show Times

Saturday, October 22nd 3pm – World Full of Monsters (Guillermo del Toro)
Monday, October 24th 7:30pm – Mother of Monsters (Milicent Patrick)
Saturday, October 29th 4:30pm – World Full of Monsters (Guillermo del Toro)
Sunday, October 30th 1:30pm – Mother of Monsters (Milicent Patrick)

Ratings (1-5)
Language – 0
Violence – 0
Blood – 0
Jokes – 5
Suggested Age: 13+ 

For more information about the TCHF in general, each of these shows, and to purchase tickets go to

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