Halsey Junior High School, Grade 9
When you hear a title like The Scariest, what comes to mind? Things that go bump in the night, perhaps? Or maybe the fears that haunt your very sleep?
Well, this play was a bit like that. As soon as I took my seat in the tepid basement of the theatre (the Green Room at Theatres at 45 Bleecker), I worried that the play wasn't going to be any good. Though it did somewhat set the mood, with hanging lightbulbs and rumbling throughout the room, I couldn't help but think: What kind of play would it be if the room had with pipes exposed? But as soon as the lights went out, sending all the audience into total, pitch-black darkness, I regretted doubting the show.
The Scariest is a colleciton of nine short plays based on stories by such authors as Hans Christian Andersen and Nathaniel Hawthorne, which take the viewer to new ways to be scared. One of my favorites, which got to me more than I thought a play could, was Lobster-Boy by Dan Dietz. It's about a boy whose little brother can't feel pain. Trying to think of a way to help him be normal, the older boy recalls a discussion in class with his biology teacher, who once said that lobsters are said not to feel pain until the moment of fear (i.e., just as they're being cooked alive). So the older brother decides to give his younger brother quite a scare, which ends up drowning him. With this, the boy's plan went awry, leaving the outcome terribly chilling.
Though the evening did succeed in bringing both fright and laughter to me, I couldn't help but feel it lacked something. Maybe because the acting by a few of the actors felt a bit unnecessary, or left me wanting more. For instance, in the first part of The Monkey's Paw, the swearing seemed a bit uncalled for. But not all the actors struck me this way. On the contrary, my theatregoing friend and I both felt there were three actors who deserved special kudos: the narrator, Joaquin Torres; Angel Desai, absolutely one of my favorite actresses of the night, and Andy Grotelueschen.
And though Lobster-Boy was one of my favorites, the second part of The Monkey's Paw was also a winner in my book. It made me jump at the end with the sudden banging of the door, and the thought of a decaying dead boy walking through it. And Delightful, about a strangler who travels from town to town with a special interest in librarians, which sent shivers down my spine.
If The Scariestwasn't quite all that I had in mind, I still found it a strong and enjoyable collection. Its run concluded on Mar. 30, but here's hoping it comes back to haunt New York stages some time soon.
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