TRUE TALES FROM UNRELIABLE SOURCES, Billy Goat Experiment Theatre Company, at the Broadway Armory. Demons, ghouls, and witches are running amok in Chicago--and it's up to you to recognize the threat and stop them. That's the premise behind Billy Goat's latest ensemble-generated play, a series of three vignettes inspired by Japanese and Native American folklore and supermarket-tabloid tall tales. To the company's credit, the three macabre acts echo one another remarkably well in theme--it's establishing a consistent tone that proves problematic.
Billy Goat's desire to subvert expectations by mixing and matching genres and media pays some dividends in the play's second act, a cautionary fable about a domesticated housekeeping demon that seamlessly incorporates elegant shadow puppets and cheesy Hammer House of Horror histrionics. But the third act--an operetta based on the Cherokee legend of the murderous liver-eating Spearfinger--suffers from a problem that also plagued Billy Goat's last production, Catching Out: the music seems almost comical in light of the grisly script.
By contrast, the first act is completely straightforward: playing crackpot guru Dr. Victoria Kane, Catherine Jarboe holds the audience in rapt attention with her goofy how-to seminar on trapping demons for fun and profit. The least experimental offering in True Tales From Unreliable Sources, it's also the least forced--the only act here that doesn't seem eclectic for eclecticism's sake. --Nick Green