This reviewer had the most fortuitous opportunity to attend The Gorey Details on Friday the 13th. The moon was full, the night was crisp, and the illustrations of Edward Gorey leapt to life on stage in a delightfully elegant ballet of murder and mayhem.
After the front drop rolls up from the bottom in a wonderfully old-fashioned way, we see a black-and-white set by Jesse Poleshuck that is firmly based on Gorey's famous illustrations, replete with smiling bats and Victorian characters. We are introduced to Ogdred Weary (Kevin McDermott), a bald, mustachioed narrator who can convey volumes of sardonic drollery with but a twitch of his eyebrows. Afflicted with writer's block, Weary finds the remedy in a cup of Q.R.V. (an "all purpose solvent"), and characters appear to illustrate his (i.e., Gorey's) poetry and stories.
This "musicale" brings us into a New England netherworld where shades of humor and grimness contrast just as much as the black and white palette of the set. Classic revenge tales, unwanted guests, a Greek chorus of pins and needles, Victorian stalkers, and a spectral hippopotamus are but a few of the characters and themes touched upon. One segment that struck a pleasantly despondent chord in me was "The Weeping Chandelier," the tale of little Theodora (Alison Crowley), who is abandoned by her parents and befriended by three bats (Daniel C. Levine, Ben Nordstrom, Christopher Youngsman).
Gorey's stories frequently concern the horrific demise of small, innocent children. Poking fun at Victorian sensibilities as usual, the author details the gruesome deaths of these characters so elegantly that one is left with a sense of: "Oh my god, I can't believe I just laughed at that!" Gorey's work delights and titillates through the harmony of words and illustration. A few times during The Gorey Details, the wry language of the poetry is upstaged by the antics on stage as directed by Daniel Levans; but, more often than not, the marriage is a happy one. Whether the movement is embellishing the text or vice versa, manic happiness perseveres. Aside from those mentioned above, the fine cast includes Allison DeSalvo, Matt Kuehl, Liza Shaller, and Clare Stollak. Rest assured that every facial expression seen on stage is priceless.
Peter Matz's music is extraordinarily apropos for the stories being told, while Levans' staging and choreography allows the cast to bring much melodrama and exaggeration to their triumphs and pratfalls.