Despite genuine laughs and clever presentation, Off-Strip’s latest suffers from unevenness

The Weird at Onyx Theatre
Jacob Coakley

Three stars

The Weird Through March 7; Thursday-Saturday, 7:30 p.m.; Sunday, 2 p.m., $20. Onyx Theatre, 702 732-7225.

The latest from Off-Strip Productions, The Weird continues producing director Troy Heard’s call for cheap laughs and gore. Playwright Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa’s love letter to the pulp side of pop culture (horror and comic books) remixes horror tropes with self-awareness, but never seems to coalesce into something beyond that.

Which is not to say it isn’t funny—there are plenty of laughs here, but there are just as many bits that don’t land, and sketches that seem to end abruptly. When the first vignette, a wonderfully tense remix of the “Bloody Mary/teen slasher” horror tropes didn’t deliver the jump scare, I was puzzled. The scene was taut and managed to knowingly tweak the tropes while succumbing to them itself—but when the moment came, the scare didn’t. And when the second vignette ended (a parody of ’50s sci-fi horror films, particularly The Fly)—I was surprised. Not because of a scare; because it didn’t feel complete. Perhaps it was the fault of the material (a Rosemary’s Baby spoof seemed particularly one-note), but the production itself seemed sloppy. Timing and mechanics matter as much as mood in comedy as well as horror, and at times this show didn’t click.

Christopher Lyons delivered as the wickedly manipulative teenage torturer in the opening bit with the petulant yet endearing Abby Dandy (who also had a fun turn later on as Supergirl). And April Sauline got laughs no matter what outrageous costume she was wearing. The rest of the ensemble (Matthew Antonizick, Jake Taylor, Jamie Riviere) were goofy and game throughout, but Michael Close wasn’t up to the role of the evening’s host, clearly not in command of the script. The costumes and hair design from Stephen R. Sisson added immensely to the characters and humor, reaching a zenith in the vampire number, pairing a silver lamé housewife ensemble and bouffant wig on Sauline with a virile repairman (Taylor) with an equally bouffant wig straight out of Bram Stoker’s Dracula. They were an unlikely but surprisingly sexy couple, and the costumes hit the right grace notes throughout.

Troy Heard’s scenic design places the show in a two-dimensional black-and-white world. It’s a clever visual joke, but unfortunately the show is only sometimes dimensional than the set.

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