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Storytellers 2001

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Storytellers 2001, TinFish Theatre. The well-meaning artlessness of StoryTellers 2001--adaptations of gothic tales, a TinFish Halloween tradition--is typified by the choice of sound track, Broadcast's The Noise Made by People. Full of gorgeous, spooky horror-movie atmospherics, many tracks are perfect. Others, more upbeat, don't fit at all. But they pretty much all get used here and there, disrupting the show's successful effects and casting a flattening sameness over the individual pieces.

Two sources--Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde and The Fall of the House of Usher--are too long to condense, so they're cut back so far that only their familiarity makes them comprehensible; the other two playlets ("White Wedding" and a Bram Stoker adaptation called "The Frankenstein Kit") are dragged out as though to conceal their slightness and lack of drama. Granted, doing all four in the space of two hours almost inevitably means editing and staging along these lines. But the surgery here is 19th-century brutal, and every story dies on the table.

The cast's uneven work doesn't help. Though Ryan Young and Jonathan Webb have their moments, their performances are often stiff and one-note. Jamie Schoenenberger and Leonda Clendenen do all right--but then the script asks very little of them. Noelle Hardy's approximate characterizations are unintentionally hilarious. The actors can only be assigned so much blame, however: adding insult to injury, director Gillian Gibson seems to have virtually abandoned them onstage.

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