‘The Weird’ provides delicious fun

“The Weird,” a series of short plays written by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, as produced by Off-Strip Productions, hits the stage running at the Onyx Theatre, knowing perfectly well how goofy it all is.

In the program notes director Troy Heard tells us, next to doughnuts and his wife, nothing gives him more pleasure than a good spook show. He goes on to explain that tossing comedy into the mix would be the sprinkles on the doughnuts. In other words, comedy horror is his dessert of all desserts. And the love of all that becomes apparent on the stage.

But don’t be fooled, there are undertones addressing serious issues.

For instance, in “Morning Becomes Olestra” we’re laughing at the macabre manifestation of a married couple. Harold is a night watchman at a doughnut factory suffering his attention-starved wife, Wanda, as she berates him over his eating obsession. It’s not fair to give away the clever ending, it would ruin the fun. Suffice it to say, it all comes around full circle.

Michael Close is the host for the evening in the embodiment of one M.T. Graves and puts us in the right frame of mind as he introduces each piece with stereotypical late-night horror show emcee witticisms. Close leads the way playing it with true abandon.

Just when you think the entire evening is going to be nothing but 90 minutes of groaners, Christopher Lyons and Abby Dandy begin “Bloody Mary” and get the audience smiling, then chuckling and, finally, breaking into full-on laughter.

Matthew Antonizick, April Sauline, Jake Taylor and Jamie Riviere round out the fine cast bringing full-bodied characters to life. The depth with which all six actors take on the different roles in rapid succession is a testament to their abilities.

Attention to detail is usually a major sticking point. Yet, when Riviere and Lyons both stick their hands through walls and grasp the frame of a window, the manner in which they executed the move added to the fun, solidifying the goofiness of the evening.

The only slip-up — and it’s a minor one — might be Jamie Riviere in “Swamp Thing.” There was a note to her role of Abigail, a backwater sexpot putting the moves on her brother’s male lover, which rang a bit too sharp.

The stage at the Onyx Theatre is tiny, but Heard, who also designed the sets, uses it to perfection. He sticks to the comic-book feel using chalkboard paint, then drawing on flats and other pieces to clearly set place as well as time. Even some of the props, such as wine and milkshake glasses are foam cutouts, painted black and outlined as if drawn on the page, placing the action into a two-dimensional world.

Jeremy Gill’s sound spices each short play with music that at once enhances the setting yet adds to the playfulness of the piece, even if it did overpower dialogue a bit in a couple of places. Derek Shipman’s lights somehow managed to set the proper eerie moods with comic-book colors. Costume and hair designs by Stephen R. Sisson found their mark in graphic novel style, using colors and cleavage in all the right spots.

The weirdness takes 2-D to three-dimensional, delightful and delicious fun.

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