Shelterbelt Theatre has a new Halloween-themed offering. Well, not entirely new, given that it’s a stitched-together creature made of parts from the past. Resurrection is the title, subtitled The Best of ShelterSkelter in which 25 years’ worth of original material has been dug up and given new life.
You might think that this is a collection of funny stuff, since Halloween-based comedy has become a regular part of holiday-time shows. Actually, most of the nine short plays do not aim for laughs, and three of the serious ones leave strong impressions. Among all of them, Aaron Zavitz’s The Examiner stands out as the most original, a post mortem near-monologue delivered with virtuosity by Eric Grant-Leanna.
Two other pieces have seriously gruesome elements that are performed with disturbing believability by members of the seven-person cast. They are Sarah Smeltzer, Whitney Hansen, Meganne Horrocks Storm, Debbie Krambeck. Kevin Goshorn and Craig Bond. Like them, Katy Boone also has multiple roles.
The first of those, Dark Mind by Julia Hinson, involves two women exploring a deserted house with a horrid history which then unfolds before their eyes. The more experimental Tell Me What Scares You by Daena Schweiger mounts in more and more unsettling verbal and physical intensity. Director Jayma Smay gets all of the stops let out powerfully.
Another piece is Joe Basque’s Husker Hell which sends up fans’ desperation when the team continues to lose. The premise resembles that of the musical DamnYankees. This play is bound to earn laughs from local football fans.
Basque’s more serious Blind Date has an interesting premise. A man and woman meet for the first time in a park after connecting via a dating site. He is awkward. She is self-possessed, dead-certain of what she wants and needs. And the comic Newly Dead Game by Rob Baker sends up TV game shows in one with all contestants having accidentally and grossly lost their lives. Bond does especially well in both.
Some uncredited person with great imagination must have chosen these plays and the order in which they are presented. Almost each links up with the preceding one in some way.
In another impressive performance, in addition to Grant-Leanna’s, Meganne Horrocks Storm’s dance-like movements in Dark Mind, as directed by Kaitlyn McClincy, add compelling images to the sense of another dimension.
These plays resurrected from Shelterbelt’s 25 years of existence certainly merit new life.
Resurrection continues through Oct.29 at Shelterbelt Theatre, 3225 California St. Thurs-Sat.: 8 p.m. Sun: 6 p.m. 8/6 : 2 p.m. Tickets: $12-20 http://www.shelterbelt.org/