Monsters in a Mirror is advertised as a horror anthology of six short plays each with a different director. All of the plays are adapted from stories in the collection Monsters in a Mirror Strange Tales From the Chapel Perilous by Phillip Andrew Bennett Low. The thing is by my count, it’s four short plays with four musical performances between them. If the musical performances called “Fast Talking” are considered plays as well, then it’s either five or if they’re counted together, it’s eight. Mathematically what I saw tonight cannot be calculated as six. I’m assuming that two segments were cut, presumably the scary ones. The show clocks in at about 70 minutes, and it definitely should be categorized in the humor column rather than horror. As a horror show it fails, as an evening out, it’s enjoyable. Frankly, it made me curious about the source material. The four “plays”, I think they are using that term loosely, are quite varied and it’s not easy to picture all of them as short stories. For example the bookend, pieces are related to each by a character and are both a little more than sketches. They play very well live but it’s hard to imagine the form they take in the book.
So what you get is eight segments in about 70 minutes, with some downtime (minimal) for staging changes. To go into the plots would be to rob you of the entire experience. The bookend segments Speak Now, or Forever Rest in Peace and The Sleeper, Woke as I mentioned are basically sketches. They are ambiguous as to what is actually transpiring, but that doesn’t matter. The joy in these are all in the dialogue. The jokes and the wit come in a stream of consciousness that’s really very charming as are the performers Rob Ward who appears as Penner in both segments, and Remy Chacon as the Figment in the first. My favorite was the second segment Say Yes. This was the one that had a dark little idea behind it that kept one upping itself in a cleaver twisted way. The third segment, while my least liked, was actually my companions favorite. It’s performed as an old radio show with the cast doing the sound effects on stage. For me, the story wasn’t engaging enough; however, the performers were all strong. The minimal amount of sound effects were a disappointment after attending far more entertaining radio style performances of the Mysterious Old Radio Listening Society at Park Square Theatre. Finally, the musical interludes are short but fun, performed by My Very Friend in a Mask with a Ukulele. The first song of the evening was the best and oddly reminded me of Lou Reed. Although I cannot really defend that statement, it’s just how it struck me at first.
So to sum it up, it isn’t what it’s advertised as, but it’s still enjoyable. I wouldn’t make a special trip into the city to attend it, but if you live in the Uptown area or are there for dinner there’s enough good stuff here to warrant stopping in and checking it out. But don’t go looking for horror, here there be clowns not tygers. For More information and to purchase tickets for Monsters in a Mirror go to maximumverbosityonline.org The Show runs through May 7th at the Phoenix Theater in Uptown Minneapolis.
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