The Spookiest Show of the Season: Why Every Horror Lover Should See Three More Tales of Terror
Who isn’t excited for Halloween? It’s October, the leaves are changing, and people are ready for some spooks and scares. I hadn't seen the prequel to Three More Tales of Terror, but I knew that I was in for a wild ride as soon as I walked through the Barbara Barrett Theatre doors (spoiler alert: I was not let down), and I knew the entire audience was in for one spooky night.
The stage was set as an old radio recording studio in a time “way back when” dressed with old chairs, and tables, and most importantly, a big “on air” light which indicated when they were broadcasting. There were four microphones set up, four stands for the actors, and a little corner I like to label as “the hub”.
This corner included all of the necessary instruments and objects that foley artist Hilary Thomson would use to make all of the sound effects for the show live on stage. The show began with stage manager Stephen Samson ushering around the actors as if they were really in the studio ready to perform. It was very natural and very believable. This story that carried through the whole piece made it feel so genuine and realistic, that I found myself forgetting where I was, in the best way possible.
The show includes three mini-stories, brilliantly written by Philip Goodridge, that all revolve around different genres of horror. The first of the night is Return to Cliffside Manor, which is a ghost story, involving a cursed manor and a missing husband. The second is Beings (my favourite of the three), which is a sci-fi horror that easily could be made into a Black Mirror episode. This mini show revolves around the discovery of a human life form pod in space, and danger ensues. The last show, Curse of the Blood King is a “creature feature” that revolves around… you guessed it, The Blood King, a “power hungry ruler” whose powers are... to die for. These stories are each told with two “commercials” in between the breaks of the broadcast.
With a cast of this caliber, I was not surprised how clean, and smooth this show ran. Philip Goodridge, Mark White, Lynn Panting, and Thea Morash lit up the stage and created the most incredible piece of art, all while switching back and forth between accents and characters, never breaking their stride. Certain characters stood out for me, including Mark White’s portrayal of Buddy the robot in Beings, and Philip Goodridge’s Mr. Peter Price in Curse of the Blood King. In all, the actors on stage were phenomenal and never made me doubt once the stories they were telling.
I couldn’t do this review without mentioning (and praising) Hilary Thomson, who in my opinion is the star of the show. Hilary, as a foley artist, did all of the sound effects live on stage along with the actors reading the story. I found myself at times with my jaw dropped watching her as she created these sounds from everyday objects. From making a car stop sound with a hot water bottle on a table top to the rustling of a wreath to give an effect of walking through grass, I was in awe of her performance the entire time. Her role in the production was crucial, and she definitely won over the hearts of the audience.
Along with the spookiness, was sprinkles of laughter brought upon by the “commercial breaks” used within the mini shows. The cast took their sponsors and ads for the show and made them into these little funny, and familiar commercials we hear every day on radio stations like Hits FM. It was such a lovely, and clever way to break up the tense thrill with a little bit of happiness.
I found myself closing my eyes at points, just listening to what was being done on stage, and I painted pictures of what I imagined these stories to look like. I realized that with everyone in that sold out audience, not one of our interpretations would look identical, which is one of the main reasons why I adored this show. It gave the audience a chance to use their creative minds, and make these worlds for themselves.
The only critique I can give is that I think next time, an intermission should be worked in for the audience, as some people seemed like they wanted to stretch their legs and head for the washroom.
With a run time of just under two hours, this show is perfect for the family, theatre lovers, and anyone who loves Halloween and horror. Three More Tales of Terror runs from October 11-13 at the Barbara Barrett Theatre. Tickets are still available, but very limited. Get them while you still can here!