By D. A. Blackburn
What are theater administrators to do when their annual Halloween production meets the axe at the hands of space and scheduling conflicts? If said theater administrators happen to be Chuck Reynolds and Phil Bolden of The Abreact, the answer is simple: circle the wagons, charge the troops with writing new short works, include a few cathartic, self-deprecating shots at the end of a tradition, and move forward in your own space.
“The Hot Mess Chronicles” – the second work to open in the company’s new home space on W. Lafayette in Detroit – does just this.
It’s a very different type of production from its “Night of the Living Dead” predecessor, but thanks to the work of some noteworthy company regulars, it’s got a charm and humor that’s purely The Abreact.
The production is composed of four cleverly written plays, strung together in the spirit of “Tales from the Crypt,” “Creepshow” or “The Twilight Zone.” “Hot Mess Chronicles” is a pitch-perfect satire of its creepy influences – sharply funny, light-hearted and slightly spooky. Three of the work’s four plays feel as though they could have been taken straight out of an episode of “The Twilight Zone.”
Bolden’s “Night of the Living Abreact” is the odd play out with regard to the genre, but for anyone familiar with the demise of this year’s “Living Dead” – or the rumors surrounding it – the play delivers a sarcastic, devious punch of laughter. And it might just start a few new fallacies about the situation.
Conversely, Sean McGettigan’s “Varken’s BLT’s” is a fine fit to the genre, and boasts some very creative writing.
The evening’s highlights, however, are undoubtedly Mike McGettigan’s “The Devil Went Down To Taylor,” and Sarah Fulmer’s “Pumpkin Love” which are both packed with excellent characterizations and spill over with creepy humor.
And after all, that’s what we all want in a Halloween show.
‘The Hot Mess Chronicles’
The Abreact Performance Space, 1301 W. Lafayette, #113, Detroit. Friday-Saturday through Nov. 7, plus Sunday, Nov. 1. Free; by donation. 313-485-0217. http://www.theabreact.com