Halloween brings spooky fun to local theater
By KAREN SHADE, 10/24/2005
Finding a place to park at Nightingale Theatre 10 minutes before showtime has often been a challenge for even the savviest of parallel parkers.
Tulsa has a crowd for the performance art, plays skimming the edges of abstraction and racy musicals staged at the tucked-away venue.
But turning onto Fourth Street from Peoria Avenue on Thursday evening, I worried that I'd confused my schedule and arrived too soon, too late, or on the wrong day altogether.
No. The lights were on and the front door open. Owner-operator Amber Whitlatch met me inside along with the noticeable absence of voices in concurrent chat.
I took my seat, a few other patrons trickled in to wait for a performance from the 50 Swats Collective, and "Old-Fashioned Poison Candy" played on nonetheless, presenting a series of monologues, performance pieces, skits and scenes as if the empty seats didn't matter.
From Lynn Kelsey's bouts with eerie static streaming from a baby doll to a desperate Sara Cruncleton on the run from a "stranger" she knows too well, "Poison Candy" tied up so much variation into a single package, I was surprised that it ran for nearly 2 1/2 hours.
Several of the vignettes were better-written than others or were better-acted than others. "Conet Party" starts out ordinary before turning up the surrealism. "Chode" comically sports a frat brother who has a mind-altering experience. "Young Love" follows the typical movie setup of young lovers alone before they fall prey to the villain, but it is more concerned with creating characters than with the impending horror. "Mad Science" recalls "Young Frankenstein," as the doctor and Igor return to the lab from the convenience store with a few last supplies for their next project.
In a second-act melancholy prelude titled "We'll Be Together," cloaked figures sing to the accompaniment of an unlikely trio of banjo, bass clarinet and flute. The sound is odd and memorable.
"Poison Candy" has its stars as well as a few episodes that leave you wondering what you just saw. Who knew a deviled egg could behave so badly?
Some of what you're presented with is for entertainment, and other scenes certainly have something to say socially and politically. Some hit the mark, and others missed.
But more than anything, the evening put forward fresh, exploratory works from energetic young minds.
You weren't supposed to focus on what was happening behind the shadow screen, but I couldn't help but watch how everyone worked together to pull out Horsemeat Flea Circus' "Alienated" shadow puppetry in a display of cohesiveness circulating through Nightingale's creative community.
And for the record, I'll take parking headaches over a bare stadium to watch live theater any day.