Sunday, October 14, 2012


I went to a dress rehearsal for Empty Space Theater Company's, Phantasmagoria III in the Patron's Room at the Lowndes Shakespeare Center. The circular room was magically transformed into a circus ring. Suspended below the circular dome was a circular screen which was used for projections. The rehearsal began with a 7PM fight choreography session. Even rehearsed at 1/4 speed, the sword fight was strangely menacing in the small space.

John DiDona, the director, then circled up all the actors to hold hands before a complete run through of the show. He told the cast, "Every story is important. We are dangerous, we have seen to much." Someone shouted, "Merde!", or was it "Murder? The room went dark as actors took their places. Two clowns in simple black suits began wrestling with boxes in the ring to comic effect. John let me know that this was the 13 minute pre-show that went on as the audience filtered in.

The Phantasmagoria cast tells some of the classic horror stories incorporating music, dance, puppetry and drama to sinister effect. The Tell Tale Heart, by Edgar Allan Poe made great use of projections on the overhead screen with chipped wall paint patterns and then  giant eye as the narrator discussed the cold blooded, highly thought out plot to kill his neighbor, an old man. The whole cast recreated the sound of the heart with guttural verbalization. It was creepy. The Cold Embrace told the tale off an artist who fell in and out of love with a cousin. Heart broken, the cousin died and then returned to haunt the fickle artist, embracing him with her invisible cold fingers.

The dark show was filled with dancing skeletons, a giant bloodthirsty wolf and beings in the darkness that were hard to identify. The ringmaster was barefooted, because corpses are barefooted in the morgue, Brittany Wine explained. Characters at times stood behind me as they whispered their lines sending a chill down my spine. The circular room is intimate, small, with no room to escape. These were classic tales told with drama and effect. Now in it's third year, the show keeps growing and evolving along with it's characters, each of whom had a dark painful back-story.

When: October 12-31st,  8:30 p.m.
Venue: Lowndes Shakespeare Center, Patron's Room
Address: 812 E. Rollins St.
Phone: (407) 328-9005
Price: $20

Prints are available for each sketch for $250 and many originals can be purchased for $400. White museum grade shadow box frames are $100 more. You can e-mail Thor at

No comments: