Sep. 26, 2012 - Issue #884: Strangelove
Horror blends with hilarity in Victor and Victoria
'What on Earth was that?"
On a bed large enough to make its actors seem kid-sized, huddled in matching blue Victorian children's outfits perch fraternal twins Victor and Victoria, uncertain of the aural lurches coming from outside their room.
"A mysteeeerious noise," Victoria says to her brother with a tone of certainty. Of its mysteriousness, she's sure. A trumpeting harbinger of their doom, perhaps; maybe the scraping sounds of a dreadful monster's arrival. The whole mood of Victoria and Victoria's Terrifying Tale of Terrifying Things is on perpetual edge, spooky, ominous, and with a creeping, growing dread in the air. And then it gets really, really funny.
The tensile line between comedy and horror rarely gets as masterful of a walking as it does here. After a 2009 Fringe debut and a trip to the New York Fringe last year, it's hard to imagine Victor and Victoria's gothic horror/comedy mash-up being more effective at either of those things. The two elements complement each other, comedy pushing the darkness further yet tempering it from hitting any extremes, while the horror gives the comic angle a unified theme to riff on. And riff they do.
The terrifying tale the twins read to try and find sleep when mother and father are nowhere to be found recalls the dark Tales of the Black Freighter, the comic within a comic of Alan Moore's Watchmen. It does lead them toward a deeper familial revelation, but it's their journey through the tale, as well as the children's doomy musings, that play perfectly on the fears of Victorian era they've set themselves in.
The scenario even offsets the usual difficulties of adults playing kids: Graham in particular takes on one of the most entertaining and spirited comic turns of 2012 here, picking up the make-pretend horrors her and Victor imagine, or embodying a wealth of supporting roles within the Tale itself. Cuckow grounds the rest as the Tale's chief protagonist (as well as a few support rolls himself) in a mix of derring-do attitude and whimpering woory.
The onstage spooks—there are a couple jumps—are paired with a very effectively used, mood-crafting sound design (Terry Fairfield) and lighting (Bobby Smale), and while Terrifying Tale concludes with a certain inevitablity, it's one that makes it all seem like a perfect creepy bedtime story of its own, as capable of spooking you as breaking through its own shadows with mirth. A rare treat.
Until Sat, Sep 29 (7:30 pm)
Victor and Victoria's Terrifying Tale of Terrible Things
Directed by Kevin Sutley
Varscona Theatre, $15 – $20
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