AWARDSThe Toronto Theatre Alliance nominated this work for the following awards in the Independent Theatre category:  

Dora Mavor Moore Award nomination for Best Direction to Mark Cassidy
Dora Mavor Moore Award nomination for Best Music to Rick Sacks


Terror-ific Theatre 

Wednesday, 01 November 2006
In homage to the horror movies that feature puppets who talk at night, and dolls that blink and twist their heads like exorcists, I figured that a production called Terror by Puppetmongers Theatre – a thirty-year establishment devoted to the art of puppetry – would be pretty creepy. What is scarier than puppets on a Thursday before Halloween? What I got was a little less Pinocchio’s Revenge; a little more interpretive dance, let’s explore our psyches, theatre. After dark, a man in a Russian ski hat meets you at a bus shelter in Toronto. With flashlight in hand, he leads you to a secret location where you are to explore your notions of what the feeling of terror entails. Puppetmongers, in association with Threshold Theatre, are responsible for this eerie theatrical experience – in which the story “The Fall of the House of Usher” by Edgar Allan Poe, and inspiration from other tales, are depicted in an interactive theatre experience. When I first understood that I was to start my evening at a bus shelter, I thought, typical slasher movie beginning: a group of individuals brought together to see a show, and led somewhere to die. Kind of sketchy. Shrouded in eight o’clock darkness, we arrived at our secret location – an industrial building, a.k.a The House of Usher – where we were led down long grey corridors. Halogen lights hung above: plain, symmetrical, institution like. An eerie scene from any modern horror. I, among the other fifteen or so theatre-goers, was queasy until the “servant” that led us in said, “Bathrooms are this way, please hang your coats here.”Actor Patrick Conner, playing character Roderick Usher (host), was outstanding. Can you imagine playing an insane artist, face-to-face with your audience? This is an extremely hard task for an actor, and Conner didn’t break face once – not even when he performed a dance that lasted about two minutes, to show his symbolic entrance into insanity. Roderick’s twin sister Madeline (Suzanne Hersh), also mentally unstable, appears unexpectedly throughout the production. Best part of the night? I found I was pretty handy with a Phillips, as I screwed her casket shut! What about the puppets? Well thinking outside of the box, puppetry really can encompass anything that adds to the theatrical experience: sound effects and shadows. The show really did challenge my typical marionette expectations, and surprised me. For an out of the ordinary theatre experience, Terror plays until November 11. Visit www.puppetmongers. com for more information.



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