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“Final Preparations” — Building on Things that go Bump…

By Ernest Kearney  —   There is nothing so evasive as engendering effective and credible dread in a live theatre environment.

Films have it easy.

The screen looms over its audience transforming the slightest fright into a towering terror, the near total darkness of the house isolates us, the manipulation of the milieu is so complete and intense as to be the most efficient of tools in heightening and exploiting suspense.

Consider the contribution of John Williams’ theme for Jaws or the disturbing and relentless audio battering sequences in William Friedkin’s The Exorcist devised by Gonzalo Gavira; such as the cracking of Linda Blair’s neck bones in the infamous head-spinning scene.

Live theatre has no such dominance over its audience’s senses and the ever-visible presence of fellow theatregoers allows for the security our species has always found in the herd.

So, Christopher Lyons’ short one-act, Final Preparations,  faces its challenges.

But Lyons, who also directs, starts off wisely enough, with the sounds of a deadly car “accident” occurring in the pre-show blackness.

From there the piece unfolds like a fairly good Night Gallery episode, opening with a spooky setting in a mortuary and the introduction of an odd mortician, aptly named “Poe,” who enjoys conversing with his clientele. In this case an eleven-year-old piano virtuoso who died in the car crash with her mother.

Lyons maintains a respectable level of creepiness with a smart use of blackouts and a nicely-worked sound score of “things going bump in the night.”

Silver Medal (via The TVolution)A revelation about the secret sideline Poe operates ups the ante — as far as the unsettling mood goes — and sets the stage for an ending right out of the pages of Eerie Magazine.

Overall, the show would have profited if Lyons’ performance had been a bit more grounded, and if he had built on the repeated blackouts, when both he and the audience were forced to fend off the horrors hidden in the darkness with only a flashlight’s weak beam as the sole light force.

Nevertheless, the show functioned well and dishes up a tidy serving of goosebumps: for that a SILVER MEDAL.

♦     ♦     ♦

Final Preparations

Played During The Hollywood Fringe Festival 2018.

For More About this Show and Updated Fringe Events Click HERE.

 


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Written by

An award-winning L.A. playwright and rabble-rouser of note who has hoisted glasses with Orson Welles, been arrested on three continents and once beat up Charlie Manson. His first play, "Among the Vipers" was a semi-finalist in the Julie Harris Playwriting Competition and was featured in the Carnegie-Mellon Showcase of New Plays. It was produced at the NPT Theater in Ashland, Oregon and Los Angeles’ celebrated Odyssey Ensemble Theatre. His following play, “The Little Boy Who Loved Monsters” was produced at The Hollywood Actors Theater, where he earned praise from the Los Angeles Times for his “…inordinately creative writing.” The play went on to numerous other productions including Berlin’s The Black Theatre under the direction of Rainer Fassbinder who wrote in his program notes of Kearney, “He is a skilled playwright, but more importantly he is a dangerous one.” Ernest Kearney has worked as literary manager or as dramaturge for among others The Hudson Theater Guild, Nova Diem and the Odyssey Ensemble Theatre, where he still serves on the play selection committee. He has been the recipient of two Dramalogue Awards and a finalist or semi-finalist, three times, in the Julie Harris Playwriting Competition. His work has been performed by Michael Dunn, Sandra Tsing Loh, Jack Colvin and Billy Bob Thornton, and to date, either as playwright or director, he has upwards of a hundred and thirty productions under his belt, including a few at the Bob Baker Marionette Theater as puppeteer. After a wild and misspent youth, which lasted well into middle age, Kearney has settled down and is focusing on his writing, as well as living happily ever after with his lovely wife Marlene. Ernest’s stage reviews and social essays can be found at TheTVolution.com and workingauthor.com. Follow him on Facebook.

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