Murder and Sci-Fi in Hi-Fi: “Monster in the Mirror”

pmrpmonsterThe Post-Meridian Players present Monster in the Mirror
Hosted by Martha Putnam Sites
Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde adapted by Tegan Kehoe
Frankenstein adapted by Mike McAfee

Responsible Grace
204 Elm Street
Somerville, MA
PMRP on Facebook

Review by Noelani Kamelamela

(Somerville, MA) As days get shorter, the air gets chilly and the moon goes fang-white.  There’s Halloween related theatre abounding in New England, and I’d include the haunted hayrides and scary mazes in that pantheon.  To add to this mix, the Post-Meridian Players bring two classic terrible tales to life in Responsible Grace with their brand of live radio drama.  

In the Golden Age of Radio, the radio didn’t just play the top 40 hits of the day or week, or news and weather.  Radio was the main form of media at the time and fantastical shows like Suspense and Lights Out (one can find gobs of episodes scattered online for free) delighted hordes of audiences for years.  The constraints of the form force adaptors to stick to word based exposition and the occasional use of foley also known as live sound effects.  

The set mainly consisted of microphones downstage with foley artists nearby; actors waited upstage for their cues.  Both adaptations were original and slightly sideways takes, partially due to the running time which limited each act to a little less than an hour.  More loyal adaptations of both Jekyll & Hyde and Frankenstein would definitely take an entire day, not just a portion of the night.  Martha Putnam Sites was an excellent host along the lines of the Cryptkeeper, spooky and yet funny enough to provide interesting segueways.

The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde was the more conventional of the two presentations:  definitely more gothic and weighted down by the conventions, costumes and customs of Victorian England.  As the title character, Cari “Zingers” Keebaugh gave an intense and nuanced performance while Nellie Farrington’s accent work as Mrs Poole was both delightful to watch and hear.  Listeners accustomed to the novel may be intrigued by the changes made to create a clever and somewhat macabre experience.  

A more zany show, The Frankenstein Murders inhabits a dark world which is frequently somber to the point of farce.  In this version of Germany, our young Victor, aptly played with nods to Gene Wilder by Christian Krenek, guides the narrative of his life to a curious doctor who doesn’t believe a word the mad scientist says since Victor is probably a killer.  Everything is so deathly serious and murderous that a puckish exchange, such as one of Joshua Heerter’s as Clerval, or even a simple pun would elicit heavy laughter from a grateful audience.

After the final Halloween night show complete with a Costume Contest, PMRP intends to put on a Radio show gender-swapped version of the Star Trek The Original Series episode “Journey to Babel” at Arisia in January 2016 and a version of Alice In Wonderland in Spring 2016.

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