SHOCKTOBERFEST 16 is Ghoulish Grand Guignol horror theatre/black comedies at their best.

PostCard-Shocktoberfest16-webbShocktoberfest 16: CURSE OF THE COBRA. Thrillpeddlers, at The Hypnodrome, 575 10th St. in San Francisco (Bryant & Division Streets), or 415/ 377- 4202.

October 7-November 21, 2015

SHOCKTOBERFEST 16 is Ghoulish Grand Guignol horror theatre/black comedies at their best. Rating: ★★★☆☆

 Halloween is near and the Thrillpeddlers have mounted another of their hysterical, you have to see to believe, “ Annual Extravaganza of Terror & Titillation.” Be warned, it is not for the faint of heart. Bodies drop likes flies in curtain raiser Cracking the Vein and continue to do so throughout the evening. Cannibalism is condoned in Scumbly Koldwyn’s musical interlude Donner Party Diner and ex-Marines behave badly in part one of The Model House. All this is in the first half of the two and half part evening.  The half part is Thrillpeddler’s traditional finale to “scare the pants off” of the audience with a lights out spook show sequence of garish ghosts and in this show includes cobras floating about as spine-chilling music abounds.

Cracking the Vein by Andy Wenger and Damien Chacona takes a page from The Treasure of Sierra Madre movie in which gold prospectors find the source of evil . . . gold. What better for the three prospectors John Flaw (Big John), Andy Wenger (Jasper) and Damien Chacona (Eustice) to do for a celebration than to haul a trunk full of their findings down to the local brothel and spread some of the wealth while having some hanky-pank with the madam Permilla (Bruna Palmiero) and her two girls Ellie (Dee Nathanial) and Devka (Katrina Kroetch). Director Russell Blackwood keeps the blood flowing and one might wonder if it is written into the script. The sequence when Big John is getting ‘special treatment’ from madam Permilla is a gem of bad taste that is an appropriate start for the evening.

While the crew and cast quickly change the scenery for the upcoming The Model House by Rob Keefe Blackwood directs a sextet of John Flaw, J Iness, Katrina Kroetch, Carol Ann Walker, Birdie-Bob Watt, Dee Nathaniel encouraging you to “Come on down to the Donner Party Diner—“Cookin’ since before the Forty Niners.” Be assured, ‘the food is really hearty’ and Scumbly Koldwyn’s lyrics have not lost their macabre touch since he was an original Cockette in the 1960s. This is probably the best sketch of the evening although Scrumbly’s The Revenge of the Son of Cobra Woman has two humdinger songs one with a calypso beat.  

By the time the sextet amble off stage the scene is set for The Model House that just happens to be built on a former dump contaminated with cancerogenic/radioactive waste. The play is presented in two parts. In Part I it is 1948 and former Marine Sargent Roy (David Bicha) has returned home and taken over the real estate business after the strange sudden death of his father. He is surrounded by his former Marines who served with him and he is showing off his ‘model house’ of the 40s with the prospect of building more on the vacant, toxic, surrounding land. When a blind WW I vet threatens to expose the truth since “There is no need for eyes to see evil”, Roy gruesomely silences him. This is the end of the first act.

After the intermission, it is still the Model House but ten years later. Roy is still a tyrant and the houses around him are falling apart and the people are having medical problems. The problems that surround Roy, his wife Bess (Noah Haydon ) and the children are many. Rusty (Owen Asdell) and his wrestling buddy Vince (Earl Alfred Paus) are having an affair in the bomb shelter (you do remember when they were in vogue??). Rusty’s twin sister Heidi (Birdie-Bob Watt) has to fend off Roy’s advances and they hatch up a plot to do Roy in. Things get complicated at this point but be assured that all does not go well and dark, dark comedy abounds before the lights go out on the surprise ending.

Of course the thrill peddlers save the best for last with The Revenge of the Son of Cobra Woman: A New Musical Fantasy Adventure by Scrumbly Koldewyn and directed by Noah Haydon. It is difficult to describe the many twists and turns of this sparkling revue of puppy love, South Sea cabaret singing/dancing, and fantasy with the cast in glorious, hysterical costumes and makeup that are trademarks of any Thrillpeddler production. It all begins like a film noir movie with the lost soul Matt (Damien Chacona) narrating his problem and adopting a puppy (Earl Alfred Paus). The scene shifts to a Calypso night club for a fantastic song and dance before strange things happen and the protagonists are drugged by poison darts and end up in the land of the Cobras. I can’t remember where the chorus of wolves came in but they are there and they sing and dance matching the Cobras step for step and beyond.

As usual the cast is not always what they seem with cross dressing, over-the-top acting with innuendo and explicit sex , in fantastic costumes (Glenn Krumbholz, Dwight Overton Tina Sogliuzzo, Birdie-Bob Watt). Then there are unbelievable props (Yusuke Soi), energetic dancing (Noah Haydon) and a variety of staff that continue to produce this yearly advent. Although it is not a must see it is a ‘should see’ production. Running time about two hours with an intermission.

Kedar K. Adour, MD

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