Twin Cities Horror Festival XII: Three Reviews from Day Two. The Hand That Washed Ashore, Rasputin, Lock-in.
Before I jump into the reviews of the shows from Day two of the festival I want to encourage you to Plan ahead and purchase your tickets before heading to the theater. On night two of the festival, three of the four performances were sold out. This is great for the festival and for the artists but can be a major bummer if you are the audience member who just shows up hoping to see a show. For More information check out the Festivals website at https://www.tchorrorfestival.com/ and to purchase tickets go to https://tix.gobo.show/festival/tchfxii
The Hand That Washed Ashore falls into the category of horror comedy, but more specifically horror comedy along the lines of Evil Dead II. It’s very serious but has elements of an almost slapstick style of comedy. It’s a tricky tonal balancing act but one that Playwright Vincent S. Hannam and Director Patrick Kozicky nail. A construction crew is trying to clear an island of storm damage on Lake Superior in Northern Minnesota before it opens to the public. When they find a chest on the shore, against the adamant pleas of one of the crew, they open it and must face the wrath of a vengeful severed hand. When you walk into the theater you’ll know immediately by the tarp on the floor that this ones going to get a little bloody. It builds slowly but when things start happening, they happen quickly. Once the chest is opened things get crazy fun. A solid cast including some double duty from Derek Dirlam as the foreman and later as the dismembered hand make this one to see.
Rasputin from Four Humors, the theater group that started the TCHF returns with their first post pandemic show and it was the best of the night, running neck and neck with Marie-Jeanne Valet, Who Defeated La Bete du Gévaudan from opening night as “Best of the Fest”. What do they have in common? Both are based on historical events, both set during a period in history when a revolution is just over the horizon, both feature a live musical score performed on stage, and finally, both feature Allison Vincent. It’s becoming clear that if you want to have a hit show at TCHF, you cast Allison Vincent in it. This time Vincent also is credited as co writer along with the three other cast members Ryan Lear, Brant Miller, and Matt Spring. The play uses a Rashomon style narrative device, wherein the three men who killed Rasputin, the Mad Monk of Russia, tell their different stories to the inspectors investigating the murder. We see the same evening play out in three different versions. Spring plays Rasputin with the swagger and confidence of a rock star, it’s a brilliant turn, but then so are all of the performances in this production. There is some rather effective special effects in this show too, including a spectacularly realistic gunshot. This was sold out and I wouldn’t be surprised if that trend continues for the entire run. Definitely more on the humorous side of things, but it’s not all fun and games!
Lock-in is a troubled production and unfortunately a show that is best skipped. It happens, I think the biggest issue with this tale of a youth group reunion is the script which doesn’t work as a stage script but better suited for film. It’s laden with short scene after short scene, making transitions clunky and ruining any sense of pacing. There were a lot of high hopes for this one as there are several Transgender characters, which faithful readers will know is something I’m passionate about. It’s never fun to say this but the script, the performances, the blood and other effects, and even the set construction all come off as just not being up to the quality of the other shows in the festival. There’s a mirror effect that could work, but it’s placement in the set is unseen by some of the audience, and those who can see it, see the the actors standing behind far too much in advance of its use. I think the cast is having fun and that’s something, but I just cannot recommend this one.
For some behind the scenes information about the TCHF listen to season 2 episode 5 of the Twin cities Theater Chat podcast https://twincitiestheaterchat.buzzsprout.com/2150807/13763195
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I am also a member of the Twin Cities Theater Bloggers (TCTB), where you can read roundups of shows by my colleagues and I when you follow us on facebook @TwinCitiesTheaterBloggers. We also produce the podcast Twin Cities Theater Chat!! which you can access through this link or wherever you enjoy podcasts https://twincitiestheaterchat.buzzsprout.com/ . We post biweekly longer form episodes that will focus on interviews and discussions around theater topics. There is also shorter episodes in which we Bloggers tell you what we think you should get out and see as well as what we have on our schedules that we are most looking forward too.