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Reviews and Press for The Dreams in the Witch House:
Chicago Reader (full review) "RECOMMENDED"
"I was completely entertained. Charley
Sherman maintains a high level of craft and creepiness without losing his sense
of humor. The laughs are both easy and queasy, and certain effects deserve the
applause they get."
Tribune (full review) "Elaborate,
creepy and baroque"
"Imagine Harry Potter gone bad.(T)he
works. Each scene has a sense of impending doom. The stakes feel high... a terrific
cast that understands the tonal demands of the production,
with its florid earnestness
that allows for just enough understated humor to sneak in through the cracks."
Society (full review) "(I)mmense
entertainment and frequent moments of spine tingling
fun... a strong emotional core as we become spiritually invested
in the quests of the show’s young heroes. The cast brilliantly
presents Lovecraft’s unusual situations with an honesty
and control that drowns out our disbeliefs and makes us believe
Out Chicago (full review)
"(Y)ou’re in for a gruesome treat... a
show where the blueprint of whose blood spews from which orifice achieves an
awe-inspiring intricacy, almost rivaling that of Sweeney Todd. (I)n a play that
begins in small-town America and ends in a distant, witch-and-rat-infested galaxy, it’s
no small feat to keep inducing squirms and squeals right until the gory end."
Christopher Shea ******
(full review) "The
Dreams in the Witch House is spectacular, in
the old school, carnival funhouse sense of the word. Do you
like your theatre eerie, gory and surprisingly witty?
Enjoy your protagonists pale and plagued by witches? Your good
guys questionable (to say the least),
and your bad guys such gibbering maniacs that the word "bad" no
longer applies? The Dreams in the Witch House has it all. Plus The Necronomicon.
is just cool. "
Youth Power Hour (full review)
delicious trollop through the highest roads of horrors greatest riffs. You’d be a fool to miss the WildClaw
Theatre’s production of The Dreams in the Witch House.”
Krypt "(A) blast. The cast was filled with strong performances... you gore hounds
will even find a little blood flying. It's
well worth seeing,"
Angry White Guy in Chicago "I am becoming a devoted fan of the
WildClaw bunch. Their enthusiasm for this esoteric brand of horror is
WildClaw Theatre enthusiastically brings one of Lovecraft's central
stories, The Dreams
in the Witch House, to the stage — bloody deaths,
strange creatures, and all. Houellebecq writes, "Lovecraft's body
of work can be compared to a gigantic dream machine," and as
it roars to life on stage, the audience should prepare for a bizarre,
WBEZ Interview with
Listen to an interview
with director/adaptor, Charley Sherman, on WBEZ's radio program, Eight
Chicago Review (see full review) "If this is the WildClaw standard for horror, we’ll
gladly be horrified again.There’s strong, nuanced character work
from the principals (including Lily Mojekwu, Tom Hickey and an astonishing
mute performance by Michaela Petro), and the multiply-cast ensemble impresses." -Kris Vire
City Times Review (see full review) Playwright Charley Sherman is still remembered in Chicago
for his award-winning page-to-stage adaptations of contemporary creep-lit
authors, and his rendition of this period thriller is laudable for its
roster of elements associated with the genre: esoteric cult-worship,
gloomy abandoned houses, gruesome unnatural deaths, masquerade balls
attended by licentious guests, strolls through the fleshpots of fin-de-siècle
London, innocent virgins strapped to surgical tables, callow youths driven
to ruin by femmes extremely-fatales (reflecting the gilded age's fear
and fascination with the notion of uninhibited sexuality—especially
in women) and, of course, gallons of lovingly-replicated gore.
Assisted by Elise Kauzlaric's superlative dialect instruction, Tom Hickey makes
a suitably buttoned-up skeptic to Lily Mojekwu's sensual mystic. Steve Herson
projects conviction in the role of the technologist unable to cope with moral
ambiguity, as does J. David Moeller's elderly witness whose testimony frames
our story, along with an ensemble of actors and designers—in particular,
Adam Kozlowski's sound, Allison Greaves' costumes and Ryan Oliver's “biological
effects.” Together, they transform what could have been merely a quaint
study of prudish Victorian intolerance into a timely lesson for audiences today." -Mary Shen Barnidge
"Our take: next
time you’re in the mood for a spine-tingler, put down the Netflix
and give this play a shot. It delivers the guts and gore you crave,
and you may actually get blood splattered on you. Score." -Ali Trachta
(see full review)
executed... It would be impossible to tell the story literally
from Machen's text, but Charley Sherman (adaptor/director) does
an excellent job of creating a narrative flow that makes sense.
Lighting and sound skillfully move you around the stage, help set
the tone and punctuate the moments of tension. The acting is also
of high caliber and the female leads Lily Mojekwu (as the many
faces of evil) and Michaela Petro (as Mary) are particularly captivating." -Jude Mire
Reader (Caution: Spoiler Alert for full
The show generates spooky fun in the vein of the classic Hammer
Films thrillers of the 1950s and '60s, achieving some powerful
moments thanks to intense performances, inventive and sometimes
grisly visual effects, and Adam Kozlowski's marvelous sound design." -Albert Williams
(see full review)
This fledgling company has made a bloody name for itself on the
Off-Loop theater scene with this singular production.
Michaela Petro, appearing
mostly as a mute character, is a wonderfully expressive and entrancing
Mary, through whose eyes the initial horror of this story is seen.
Lily Mojekwu's bewitching Helen easily and skillfully transforms each
situation with style, elegance and animal ferocity, the better to ensnare
her next victim. However, it is the fate of one of those victims, played
to innocent perfection by Peter Corey, that will stay with you long
after the lights dim.
This modest production boasts many excellent special effects by biological
properties artist Ryan Oliver; the stage becomes littered with spurting blood
and assorted lifelike body parts throughout the production. The mood of the
play is audibly enhanced by Adam Kozlowski's brilliant, pulsating sound design."
(see full review) "This is a major achievement as a piece of horror theatre...(a)
well acted and eerie work (with terrific lighting by Paul Foster with
outstanding mood setting sound design by Adam Kozlowski), delivers Machen’s
relatively unknown work quite effectively. This production of The Great
God Pan is an outstanding evening of horror/mystery theatre. Chicago
needs a “horror theatre” and Wildclaw Theatre sure makes
an impressive debut in that realm.
Let me state that The Great God Pan aptly explores the nature of evil and the
search for evil’s true identity that unfolds with several unique twists.
This major work is engaging and scary. The low budget production delivers several
well-time moments that make you jump out of your seat. Tom Hickey, Lily Mojekwu
and Peter Corey were terrific. Kudos to Charley Sherman for attempting and
succeeding with a complex horror classic. I await more." -Tom Williams
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