Storytellers | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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TinFish Productions, at Heartland Studio Theater.

Horror is engendered primarily by Things Unseen, which makes it difficult to produce in an externalized medium like the stage. It comes as no surprise, then, that the stories in TinFish Productions' second annual Halloween show, Storytellers, concerned with the characters' behavior--Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's "The New Catacomb" and Bram Stoker's "The Squaw"--fare better than those concerned with the characters' sensitivities: Edgar Allan Poe's case study "The Tell-Tale Heart" and "The Vampyre," adapted from Dr. John Polidori's tale of the same name and Byron's "The Burial." This narrative is also handicapped dramatically by its epistolary structure, as "The Squaw" is hampered by its reliance on long monologues (delivered by a stereotypically barely coherent Yankee frontiersman).

As adapted and directed by Charles Richtfort, these and other pieces emerge as only passable classroom exercises, with some odd phrasing and pronunciation and many noisy scene changes. Still, Ray Kasper and Wayne Camp generate a nice chemistry as the adversaries in "The New Catacomb" and "The Vampyre" (though Camp's native accent tends to intrude on his assumed ones). And Annabel Lee Allen as the innovatively cast narrator in "The Tell-Tale Heart" displays some meticulous oral interpretation, redeeming a nebulous characterization. At least TinFish has left the juvenile excesses of last spring's Night of Absurdia behind.

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