Reviewed by David Walters
Freaky, weird, macabre, lurid, grisly, morbid, ghoulish and ghostly. What a tale they tell!
13 Dead Dreams of Eugene was featured at the Orlando Fringe Festival where it won the “Best Show,” Critics’ Choice Award. Conceived and developed by Erika Kate MacDonald and Paul Strickland (our storytellers); it’s a flashlight and shadow play with music and puppets.
If “puppets” is a scary word to you, it’s not a puppet show, don’t be afraid of that. Be afraid of the story they have to share with you. Be very afraid.
And be afraid of Sabina, Ohio. Remember that name. A little hint: Don’t stop there overnight, keep driving on down to Cincinnati.
This fantastical story is about five things coming together: an unidentified dead body, a 35-year mummy tourist exhibition, a typewriting ghost that is eternally lost, a town all dreaming the exact same dream and Erika and Paul’s adventure in uncovering this story. Taken separately, kind of strange, but putting all the pieces together, really really weird. So much so that it may disturb your slumber.
Back in 1929 a dead body was found in a ditch alongside the 3C highway in Sabina, Ohio with no identification except a piece of paper with the address of an empty lot. The body was exhumed and put on display in the hopes that someone could identify it. For 35 years. A man in town becomes possessed and types out several long letters from the ghost of the dead body crying out for help, “Who am I?” The town begins to collectively dream one of twelve chilling dreams (a couple of highlights: a newspaper wrapped dead body floats in the river under a bridge in uncharacteristically still water that never moves; a whistle maker, in a final act of revenge, hangs and then carves out the heads of three thieves so that the wind will whistle as it blows through their skulls; the home that can’t be seen until the dreamer plucks out their own eyes.).
This stranger than fiction tale is an “I can’t believe it!” journey of all five stories coming together for an enticing and riveting evening. The threads are all interwoven with lights and shadow, music, song, sound effects and superb storytelling. You will come out of the theater wide awake and worrying about your next night’s sleep.
I also need to highlight The Fringe Encore Series that 13 Dead Dreams of Eugene is part of. It’s a great opportunity to see shows that have won awards from around the globe. The Fringe Encore Series assembled the “Best of the Fests” from fringe festivals around the world (Brighton, Edinburgh, Hollywood, Limerick, Orlando, Toronto and New York) and gave them a short run at The Soho Playhouse. The full series is running November 6 – December 16, 2018. Tickets are $39/$25 and can be purchased by visiting www.fringeencores.org. There’s a lot of really cool stuff that they’ve brought to New York, something for everyone: comedy, drama, family musicals, cabaret shows. It’s a wonderful opportunity for theater lovers to experience “the best of” from around the world. Take a look at the many wonderful offerings and go see something magical.
13 DEAD DREAMS OF EUGENE written and directed by Paul Strickland and Erika Kate MacDonald. Cast, production crew and everything else: Erika Kate MacDonald, Paul Strickland. Running time is about an hour.
If 13 Dead Dreams of Eugene gives you nightmares, don’t blame me. Blame Eugene for dying.