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Tales from the Crypt

by Rich See

I ate those children for the love of my art.
---the Witch

Landless Theatre offers their third simultaneous running production, Fairy Tales From The Crypt as an offering for young audiences. Bringing their trademark brand of silliness to the fore, the troupe provides a humorous work that may entertain parents as much as children.

Written by Landless' artistic director, Andrew Lloyd Baughman, the story incorporates audience participation as it features a trial to see who shall be released from an overcrowded prison cell for fairy tale villains. We have the Witch from "Hansel and Gretel," Goldilocks, the Troll from the "Three Billy Goats Gruff," the Wolf from the "Three Little Pigs," and the Con Artist from "The Emperor's New Clothes." Incorporating adult jokes into the story line keeps the pace running for Mom and Dad, as it entertains the five to nine year old set.

With a new inmate soon to arrive and the cell about to be overcrowded, the story allows each villain to explain their bad behavior in an effort to get the audience's sympathy and vote for their freedom. As Tex the warden (played by substitute Jen Tonon) gives each character a chance to speak, you see how far the need for good PR has come in American society.

Gorgontual Newtseye, the witch, is played with convincing earnestness by Katherine Lawrence. Gorgontual explains she was framed by a film director who demanded she consume child actors to remain employed in her first acting job. Chad Allen's Spike the troll is a Jersey blue collar kind of guy who insists he was simply doing what trolls do when he ate the goats in self-defense of his bridge.

Matt Baughman's gleefully plays B.B. Wolf as an unhinged psychotic. B.B. whines that the three little pigs were biker gang members who tormented him and accidentally blew themselves up in a fiery death. His misfortune was in moving next door to them -- and in choosing to eat the bacon slices that resulted from their untimely barbecue.

Described as "the fairy tale Lolita," Ashley Hall's Goldilocks (call her Goldie) assures us she was framed by errant bear parents who left her ill-prepared to baby-sit their hyperactive cub. And Truffledino -- played in a snake oil salesman kind of way by Ernie Achenbach -- claims his only crime was in illuminating the American president's foolishness to the American people on national television during the annual State of the Union address (or undress as Truffledino puts it). All of the actors play other characters in the little vignettes that relay their particular stories.

With very basic staging and simple costumes (the most elaborate being the Witch's green make up and black outfit) Landless is spurring kids to use their imaginations. Still seemingly a work in progress, Fairy Tales From The Crypt has some potential and could be a fun hour of silly entertainment..

Tales from the Crypt
By Andrew Lloyd Baughman
Directed by: Andrew Lloyd Baughman
with Matt Baughman, Jen Tonon, Ashley Hall, Katherine Lawrence, Chad Allen, Ally Jenkins, Ernie Achenbach
Running Time: 45 minutes with no intermission
A production of Landless Theatre
Gala Hispanic Theatre at Tivoli, 3333 14th St NW
Telephone: 301-639-5265
FRI - SAT @3, $5-$10
Opening 03/25/05, closing 04/16/05
Reviewed by Rich See based on 04/02/05 performance
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