12 Peers, Pittsburgh’s newest theatre company, makes an impressive debut with a pulpy mix of comic books and horror in Roberto Aquirre-Sacaba’s The Weird.
Consisting of a series of varying vignettes, the play is reminiscent of Rod Serling’s Twilight Zone or (better yet) his Night Gallery.
Director Vince Ventura has assembled a very strong cast of some of the Pittsburgh’s finest actors: Brian Edward, Randy K Deshong, Naomi Grodin, Rebecca Steer, Jim Scriven, Sara Fisher and John Feightner.
All but Feightner play multiple roles. He has the task of playing a Cryptkeeper-like character, who serves as the narrator between the playlets. Feightner, who fully looks the part, embodies the role completely, interacting with the audience and making the most of the ghoulish humor.
Brian Edward again shows his range as an actor by playing everything from a milquetoast scientist to an oversexed repairman.
Grodin and Deshong supply many of the laughs in the show. Steer, a new transplant from Chicago, makes an impressive debut, both as a research assistant and a sexy (but twisted) Southern belle gone bad.
Both Scriven and Fisher are engaging onstage and have great chemistry, particularly playing young lovers in both “Bloody Mary” and “10 Minute Play About Rosemary’s Baby.”
Utilizing simple sets, director Ventura keeps the pace lively, bringing the show in at ninety minutes (with no intermission). Sometimes the writing helps him; sometimes, it hurts. A few of the small tales move to surprising endings (in particularly “Bloody Mary” and “Swamp Gossip). Others just seem to go no where (“Insect Love” and “10 Minute Play About Rosemary’s Baby’). Fortunately The Weird is like the weather in Pittsburgh. If you don’t like it—wait ten minutes.
There are no deep messages in The Weird, but it is a frothy and lively evening of entertainment.
If The Weird is any indication, 12 Peers has a great artistic future and will be a welcome addition to the Pittsburgh theatre scene.
The Weird continues through January 29 at the Greybox in Lawrenceville.