Nov 12

Vintage Neuroses in a Noir Package: “Unusual Things Have Happened: Tales of Everyday Horror”

Photo via Facebook; the cast at Charlestown Working Theatre.

Presented by imaginary beasts
Produced by special arrangement with the children of Shirley Jackson, and Catalyst Management, LLC. 
By Shirley Jackson
Directed by Mathew Woods
Ensemble: Laura Detwiler, Denise Drago, Lauren Foster, Molly Kimmerling, Amy Meyer, Bob Mussett, Jennifer Taschereau

November 2nd – November 16th, 2019
Charlestown Working Theater
442 Bunker Hill Street, Charlestown, MA  02129
The Beasts on Facebook

Trigger warning: psychological horror, emotional trauma, spooky ghosts

Critique by Kitty Drexel

“Journeys end in lovers meeting; I have spent an all but sleepless night, I have told lies and made a fool of myself, and the very air tastes like wine. I have been frightened half out of my foolish wits, but I have somehow earned this joy; I have been waiting for it for so long.”― Shirley Jackson, The Haunting of Hill House

(Charlestown, MA) imaginary beasts’ latest production, Unusual Things Have Happened: Tales of Everyday Horror brings the psychological pain of everyday anxiety into sharp focus. The beasts tell six stories adapted from the works of Shirley Jackson in a style that they have named “narrative theatre.” Cast members dictate the action onstage just as a third-person voice narrates the passages of a book.  It looks and sounds like a one or two-person Greek chorus.

The vignettes that make up the production examine the commonplace terrors that women experience on the daily: isolation, powerlessness, and disorder. There is puppetry, mime, and yes, scene narration. The narrators are like impartial babysitters watching their human companions toddle towards danger. They might stop them, but where’s the fun in that?  Continue reading

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Jan 28

Here’s Your Coffee Ma’am: “Paul Bunyan and the Winter of the Blue Snow”

True love with dog. Photo by Alex Sandberg.

Presented by imaginary beasts & Charlestown Working Theater
Written by The Ensemble
Story conceived by Matthew Woods
Directed by Matthew Woods

Jan. 19 – Feb. 10, 2019
Charlestown Working Theater
442 Bunker Hill St
Charlestown, MA
imaginary beasts on Facebook

Critique by Kitty Drexel

(Charlestown, MA) Paul Bunyan and the Winter of the Blue Snow is about best friends and the lengths we go to love them. imaginary beasts treats us with another homegrown panto in the English tradition but with an American fringe flourish. Special effects are minimal but the appeal is high. The plot may wander but the panto’s generosity of spirit more than makes up for the meandering. Continue reading

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Oct 30

Moby Dick, Disassembled in [or, the whale]

Photo courtesy of imaginary beasts’ Facebook page.

Presented by imaginary beasts
Written by Juli Crocket
Directed by Matthew Woods
Musical Composition by Kangaroo Rat Music (Anna Bell & Tim Desrosiers)
Movement Coaching by Molly Kimmerling and Amy Meyer

October 14-November 4, 2017
Charlestown Working Theater
Charlestown, Massachusetts
[or, the whale] on Facebook

Review by Gillian Daniels

(Boston, MA) “No one remembers an Ahab with two legs,” SHE (Raya Malcolm) tells the third member of the Ahab chorus, Danny Mourino, before sweeping him through a door that exudes a blue, haunting light. This disassembled retelling of Moby Dick is similarly haunting, stylish, and similarly full of light, specifically light slapstick, cheerful music, and a cast of tumblers on a colorful, creepy set complete with giant whale ribs. It’s delightful and strange, and I would expect nothing less from imaginary beasts. Continue reading

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Jan 31

“The Princess and the Pea”: A Fairytale Political Drama

“Three Plot Twists”: Sarah J. Mann as Prince Percy, James Sims as Mick Motley, Matthew Woods as Captain Brightside; photo credit: imaginary beasts.

Presented by imaginary beasts
Written by The Ensemble
Based on the fairytale by Hans Christian Andersen
Directed by Matthew Woods

January 14 – February 4, 2017
Plaza Black Box Theatre at the Boston Center for the Arts
539 Tremont Street, Boston MA
Boston, MA 02116
imaginary beasts on Facebook

Review by Travis Manni

(Boston, MA) In this uncertain and tumultuous political climate, the arts are a fantastic medium to fight back. While this often applies to theatre, I must admit I was surprised that imaginary beasts’ production of The Princess and the Pea used the kid’s show to make a mockery of our current state of affairs. But it was effing brilliant. Continue reading

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Oct 04

Lizzie is Not Herself Today: Angela Carter’s “The Fall River Axe Murders”

Presented by imaginary beasts
Adapted from the short story by Angela Carter
Directed by Matthew Woods

Oct. 1-22, 2016
Plaza Black Box Theater
Boston Center for the Arts
Boston, MA
Imaginary beasts on Facebook

Review by Kitty Drexel

(Boston, MA) Anyone who lives in NE and isn’t familiar with the Lizzie Borden story, can’t call themselves a native. On August 4, 1892, Lizzie Borden allegedly murdered her father and stepmother with an axe. An axe any family of the times would have kept to chop wood for the kitchen or other necessary household fires. The Borden axe was spectacular for its extracurricular activities only. Continue reading

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Apr 05

imaginary beasts’ “Alice in Wonderland”

alice

Created by the Manhattan Theatre Project
Based on the novel by Lewis Carroll
Presented by Imaginary Beasts
Directed by Matthew Woods

April 1 – 23, 2016
Boston Center for the Arts
539 Tremont Street, Boston
Imaginary Beasts on Facebook

Review by Danielle Rosvally

(Boston, MA) It is no small challenge to take on a piece with so much cultural baggage as Alice in Wonderland.  Audiences have seen, heard, and read this story over and over again from our childhoods unto the present day.  Alice is everywhere in so many forms that adding something new to the tale is a Herculean task.  Unfortunately, I don’t think that artistic director Matthew Woods quite had a handle on it. Continue reading

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Jan 19

Somewhere Over, Under, in Front of, Behind the Rainbow: “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz”

Photo credit: Diane Anton

Photo credit: Diane Anton; the cast stepping out

Presented by imaginary beasts 
Written and Directed by Matthew Woods
Based on the Oz novels of L. Frank Baum

January 9-30, 2016
imaginary beasts on Facebook
BCA Plaza Black Box Black Box Theatre
Boston, MA

Review by Noelani Kamelamela

(Boston, MAPlaying fast and loose with both Oz canon and popular culture, imaginary beasts returns to the marvelous lands and characters L. Frank Baum created to amuse and entertain children at the turn of the century in Winter Panto 2016:  The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.  People unfamiliar with the pantomime tradition should not come expecting a regular play, or the musical version of the show, or even a rundown of all of Baum’s Oz books.  Rather, it’s a rollicking variety of scenes that parodies both the source and contemporary mores. Continue reading

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Apr 13

Daniil Kharms Continues to Charm in imaginary beasts’ Betty Bam!

Photo credit: Roger Metcalf

Photo credit: Roger Metcalf

Presented by imaginary beasts
Directed by Matthew Woods, Joey C. Pelletier, and Michael Underhill
Written by Daniil Kharms
Translation by Zoya Derman
Adapted by The Ensemble

April 10 – May 2, 2015
At the Plaza Black Box Theatre
at the Boston Center for the Arts
539 Tremont Street, Boston MA
imaginary beasts on Facebook

Review by Gillian Daniels

(Boston, MA) The innovative and evocative imaginary beasts continue with their year-long exploration of Stalinist-era author, Daniil Kharms, with Betty Bam! Their last attack on his material, KNOCK!, was a condensed affair, a multi-character and multi-story primer on Kharms’ bleak humor and deeply unsettling monologues. The actors took pratfalls and grafted the absurdist theater onto a sort of vaudeville act. In Betty Bam!, the visual nods remain in the early-twentieth century, but the aesthetic switches to black and white film, page-boy cuts, and a set styled into a cartoon explosion. The five actresses who depict Betty Bam’s fractured identity (Beth Pearson, Amy Meyer, Molly Kimmerling, Sarah Gazdowicz, and Kiki Samko) are each a live action Betty Boop caught in an explosion of a different sort, one that takes the guise of an interruption into their life: the police, Ivan (Cameron Cronin) and Pytor (William Schuller). As with KNOCK!, the police are an oppressive force, one here to take Betty to an unknown fate. The action of taking her away makes up the entirety of the plot. Continue reading

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Oct 01

imaginary beasts Will KNOCK! You Out of Your Comfort Zone

Photo by Roger Metcalf

Photo by Roger Metcalf

Presented by imaginary beasts
By Daniil Kharms
Directed by Matthew Wood
Dramaturgy by Matthew McMahan

Sept. 26 – Oct. 18, 2014
At the Plaza Black Box Theatre
at the Boston Center for the Arts
539 Tremont Street, Boston MA
imaginary beasts on Facebook

Review by Gillian Daniels

(Boston, MA) A joke in the absurdist, Stalin-era work of Daniil Kharms is the same as a violent pratfall: random, shocking in its flippancy, and somehow charming.  The punchlines in Knock! The Daniil Kharms Project involve a man forgetting his name due to a number of bricks dropped on his head or a romantic couple disappearing in the middle of the night by the secret police.  Utilizing a fun, avant-garde set design by Christopher Bocchiaro and Matthew Woods, imaginary creatures adapts Kharms’ experimental black humor with confidence. The theatre group doesn’t let anything like a sketchy plot or a lingering sense of doom from an oppressive government get in the way of a good time. Continue reading

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Mar 31

Playful Rendering of Moliere’s “Lovers’ Quarrels”

Displaying CarouselFullCast.jpg

Photo credit: Roger Metcalf

Presented by imaginary beasts
By Molière
Directed by Matthew Woods
Translation by Richard Wilbur

March 28 – April 19, 2014
At the Plaza Black Box Theatre
Boston Center for the Arts
Boston MA
imaginary beasts on Facebook

Review by Gillian Daniels

(Boston) imaginary beasts’ production of Lovers’ Quarrels is less concerned with emotional authenticity than the beauty of its artifice.  The 17th century romantic comedy is not exactly a work of realism, and thankfully, is not treated as such.  Its plot hinges on a girl who has been raised as a boy, Ascagne (Lynn R. Guerra), tricking a young man she likes, Valère (Will Jobs), into marriage by pretending to be her extremely feminine sister, Lucile (Erin Eva Butcher). imaginary beasts presents this material with all the seriousness it deserves, creating an innocent, funny romp through improbable obstacles. Continue reading

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