“GoreFest XV” and Its Demons

Presented by ImprovBoston
Book by Nate Lopez
Lyrics and score by Jake Cassman
Directed by Nate Lopez
Produced by Josh Garneau

October 19 – 31, 2017
ImprovBoston, 40 Prospect Street
Central Square, Cambridge, MA 02140
ImprovBoston on Facebook

Reviewed by Bishop C. Knight

(Cambridge, Massachusetts)  The cast of the horror show Gorefest XV: Horror House stars clichés such as Rich Guy, Girl Next Door, Mom Girl, Devil Girl, Overachiever Girl, Gay Guy, and Laura Dern.  They were hilariously accurate stereotypes, even Laura Dern as Laura Dern.  For example, Overachiever Girl became sulky when she placed second in a contest.  And Laura Dern screamed “Take this Academy,” as she stabbed herself with a trophy, falling to a fake death, on a stage smothered in puddles of fake blood.  

Yes, this is Cambridge. Small-fry entertainment news like Laura Dern’s first Academy award win in September, after repeatedly losing over the last 25 years, sneaks into your Halloween performance.  What I loved about this moment was that a more tragic version of the Jurassic Park theme accompanied Dern’s dramatic death.  With my inherited penchant for dark humor, I laughed at that, and I laughed at it a lot.

I did not laugh so much during the cast’s amazing dance routines, but not because I disliked their creepy twerking.  Rather, because I was quietly mesmerized: Can I actually be watching a musical horror show in person?  It’s the reaction I have to Sweeney Todd and Little Shop of Horrors. The actors’ ballsiness was spell binding. My gawd, they’re singing about sodomy!  They’re singing praises of communism!  They’re singing about your skin being burned off!  What the heck is happening here?  It is a hell of a confusion, and I sat transfixed like a preschooler completely captivated on a story read by the teacher: eyes wide, mouth ajar, absorbing all of the new and sinister impersonations.

Then Bruce Dern popped from behind a curtain proclaiming “Yes, Ben Hopper was my son-in-law for almost nine years,” and mentioning he was in the film Nebraska, which made me howl with laughter once again.  How random to over-confidently boast this obscure indie film and with super quirky timing which, in my book, is just a lovely combination of theatrical stream of consciousness.  But seriously, what was most striking about this cameo was the actor spoofing Bruce Dern.  I quickly realized I had seen this actor in another performance, and his name is Joe Szafarowicz.  

Szafarowicz’s ease in front of the audience grabbed my attention. Joe was committing a whole bunch of unsavory acts up at the front of the small black box theatre.  Joe, as Bruce Dern, demonically screamed in an audience member’s face.  Then Joe, as Bruce Dern, spit fake blood on a patron. These acts might be cringe worthy for some.  However, I sat in my seat impressed by the versatility of this actor!  

This review comes at the end of the show’s run.  If you appreciate silly and morbid humor, then definitely go to GoreFest, whether you get there this week or next October.  It is an event to keep on your radar.  It is The Mighty Boosh gone ghostly wrong.  It is campy, messy, and goofy.  It is an all-around good time! I left the theatre covered in fake red blood and mysterious blue bile: the proper conclusion of any GoreFest horror show.


Queen’s Note:
We elected a thin-skinned Nazi to the office of the President who is turning our “democracy” into a fascist, totalitarian oligarchy dominated by the 1%. Trump is a monster. His policies, when he names them, are destructive. His narcissistic behavior is more so.

Congressional “negotiators” released a spending bill that saves the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for Humanities, and National Public Radio until September at which time, the President and his impotent cronies may still cut arts funding. It is ever important to remain vigilant. And, for the love of all that’s sacred, keep creating. If you need help, ask for it. Our existence is our resistance. May the force be with you. – KD

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