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The Halloween Plays – Three Bursts Of Fire, Fear And Fantasy

by Karen Tortora-Lee on October 30, 2010

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“How delightful are the pleasures of the imagination! In those delectable moments, the whole world is ours; not a single creature resists us, we devastate the world, the means to every crime is ours, and we employ them all, we multiply the horror a hundredfold.”

– Marquis de Sade

The Company XIV ensemble Dénouement—A Murderous Masquerade (Photographer: Corey Tatarczuk)

The Company XIV ensemble Dénouement—A Murderous Masquerade (Photographer: Corey Tatarczuk)

Company XIV has joined up with Brave New World Repertory Theatre to create a show that, in three acts, covers all the grown-up Halloween thoughts that haunt the recesses of the minds of those too old to go door to door asking for candy on the appointed day.

To step into the space of Company XIV is to surrender yourself to the world that Austin McCormick and his cohorts create.  First act – Dénouement —A Murderous Masquerade – is at once devilish, devious, and delirious – it will beguile you, possess you, and then  -once it’s had its way with you-  will leave you emotionally drained, begging for more.

Taking a cue from the Marquis de Sade, the troupe of dancers play a dangerous game of Russian-roulette, one where in the end  just a single person remains standing.  The passion, betrayal, revenge, jealousy, fear, anticipation and excitement are all played out in a breathless whirlwind of dancing that mixes hatred and love as easily as gin mixes with vermouth to make that perfect martini.

Yet again, when Austin McCormick lets his imagination run wild, it runs straight into a world of intoxication, romance and magic.  Dénouement, however, is crisply tinged with exquisite torture as well – the anxious irrationality of the indulgence that seems doomed to fail before it starts.  To watch a woman dance a twisted dance of mourning that is so raw and powerful as to virtually evoke wailing – or to see a woman who would rather kill her lover than become a spectator to his display of wicked philandering – this is to see the true ghosts that haunt the human soul.  Bathed in the ethereal lighting design of Gina Scherr, the effect becomes so heady that you’d need more senses to fully embrace it all.  As it stands, the five you’ve got will be dazzled and overwhelmed.

With narration delivered by an alluringly well-heeled Jeff Takacs (this is a man who knows how to rock thigh-high patent leather spike boots), you will be bewitched by those who “love much . . . but not for long”.

Dénouement —A Murderous Masquerade
Company XIV: Laura Careless, Delphina Parenti, Mina Lawton, Marla Phelan, Marisol Cabrera, Jeff Takacs, Mike Hodge, Sean Gannon, Austin McCormick
Choreographed, Conceived and Directed by Austin McCormick.  Written by Jeff Takacs


Chris Caputo (Hansel), Scott Voloshin (Witch), and Abigail Drach (Gretel) in Too Much Candy (Photographer: Steve Bartel)

Chris Caputo (Young Hansel), Scott Voloshin (Witch), and Abigail Drach (Gretel) in Too Much Candy (Photographer: Steve Bartel)

The second of the Halloween Plays begins with candy – Too Much Candy - but soon becomes more about cognitive behavioral therapy.  Seems Hanzel (Stuart Zagnit) had a lousy childhood – he grew up poor and his mommy never hugged him.  Every time he finds himself overcome with memories of the past – something about a witch (Scott Voloshin), something about being abandoned in the woods with his sister Gretel (Abigail Drach) he consumes massive amounts of candy and pours his heart out to a psychiatrist (Claire Beckman) who seems to take more than a passing interest in his life history.

Writer Cynthia Babak has taken an age old tale and given it not just a new twist, but a pat New York twist – children’s story through the lens of shrink’s couch is a Gotham Tale if ever there was one.  Directed cleverly and whimsically by Nell Balaban, Too Much Candy flows well from past horror to present healing – using flashbacks to full effect.  With Chris Caputo echoing as Hansel’s younger self, we’re reminded of how terrifying this bedtime story really is.   Once you revisit it from this side, it’s no wonder this guy’s eating his emotions.

Too Much Candy
Written by Cynthia Babak
Directed by Nell Balaban


Kevin Hogan, Alvin Hippolyte, and Sean Patterson in Salsa (Photographer: Steve Bartel)

Kevin Hogan, Alvin Hippolyte, and Sean Patterson in Salsa (Photographer: Steve Bartel)

The final play is a rapid fire, funny short about Salsa.  But not just any salsa – no . . . when we come upon this strange little diner on the edge of town, the patrons  are – as so many of us – in search of that perfect heat . . . that heat that will sear you and deliver all that is promised on that bottle.  One thing leads to another and suddenly a little blue bottle appears.  Hotter than the red stuff.  Hotter than the green stuff.  Hot enough to raise demons from the depths.

Although this is the shortest of the pieces, Salsa – written by Greg Kotis and directed by Chip Brookes – carries just as much weight as the other two.  With delicously spicy humor and a tasty payoff, Salsa is just the right condiment to top off this trio of shows.

Written by Greg Kotis
Directed by Chip Brookes
With Kevin Hogan, Sean Patterson, Alvin Hippolyte and Kip Taisey


Performances are Thursdays – Saturdays at 8pm and Sundays at 2pm and 7pm.
Tickets are $18 and can be purchased online at or by calling 917-285-8911.
303 Bond Street
Train access via the F or G to Carroll Street.
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