ELDER GODS

DreamLogic Theatreworks is known for creating exhilarating performance events at the bleeding-edge of live entertainment. Now, inspired by modern horror’s greatest innovator, DreamLogic presents its most provocative event yet: H.P. Lovecraft’s ELDER GODS.

Presented by DreamLogic Theatreworks

February 10 – March 3, 2012

@ The Davis

620 Davis Street, Evanston

Show Type: Drama/Horror

DreamLogic Presents ELDER GODS

By Venus Zarris

Over the years I have had some unusual coincidences while viewing theater. I prefer to go into a production knowing as little about it as possible. That way, there are fewer preconceived notions affecting the experience.

Here are three aspects of H. P. Lovecraft’s story The Dreams In The Witch House that I was unaware of until after seeing the show.

1. Rats are a creepy thread in the story. There are rat infestations and also there is a half-human/half-rat creature.

2. Incantations are recited, one of which speaks of a unicorn.

And 3. There are witches. (OK, maybe I guessed about the witches given the title of the play.)

I received a phone call on the morning of the day that I was going to review WildClaw Theatre’s production of H. P. Lovecraft’s The Dreams In The Witch House. It was my downstairs neighbor asking if I would help her with a problem. She said that she had a strange smell in her apartment and couldn’t pinpoint its origins.

I went down to attempt to help locate the stink. After an extensive search of her very clean kitchen we moved a tall shelf and discovered rodent ‘evidence’ and a hole in the wall where the little creature was frequenting. (This was a mouse and not a rat but rodents are rodents, especially when they are up to no good.)

I got down on all fours to check out the hole with a flashlight. My face was at ground level when all of a sudden I felt a brutal blow to my head! This was not a tap mind you but a severe blow, literally a ‘seeing stars’ blow. When I managed to get back on my feet I saw that a large solid brass unicorn had toppled over as a result of moving the tall shelf next to the fridge where it was sitting on top of. (Again, my head was ground level and this fell from the top of the fridge. That was over two weeks ago and I still have a painful dent on my noodle.)

As I was getting ready to leave my neighbor’s apartment, with ice pack on head, she informed me that she would be going out of town for a few months starting at the end of December. While away she will be sub-letting her apartment out to …

Ready?

… a coven of tantric witches who will be setting up a goddess temple in her living room. (I am not casting aspersions on my soon to be downstairs neighbors, just simply pointing out the strange parallels.) 

1.   Ratsthe busy little stinky mouse

2.   Unicornthe painful dent in my noggin

3.   Witcheswitches!

Any ONE of these coincidences would be strange. Any TWO would be bizarre.

But all THREE?…

This made for a triple threat of freakish déjà vous that swept over me in eerie waves while watching The Dreams In The Witch House.

Not only was WildClaw Theatre able to create an entertaining adaptation of H. P. Lovecraft’s haunting classic, but also they inadvertently tapped into something a bit more personally peculiar and unexpectedly unusual.

This makes me very excited to see their next production, and perhaps just a little bit nervous?

I’m not sure that I am ready for zombies! 

WildClaw Theatre – Bringing Horror and the Supernatural to the Chicago Stage

By Venus Zarris

A wonderfully created poster illustration can conjure a vividly realized atmosphere before you even stop foot into a theater. This is the case with the poster design created by Charlie Athanas for WildClaw Theatre’s production of The Dreams In The Witch House

The play’s director, Charley Sherman, wanted something dark and nightmarish and he got it with Athanas’s hauntingly eerie graphic design. Athanas captured the forbidding world detailed in H. P. Lovecraft’s frightening story and set the perfect mood for WildClaw’s, Chicago’s very own Horror Theater Company, freakish adaptation of these things that go bump in the night. 

Too seldom is recognition given to the exceptional peripheral and supportive artistry that goes into in the making of theater. This most collaborative of arts depends on the visions of all involved and Charlie Athanas created a marvelously macabre setting that stands as a haunting reminder of how frightening the telling of horror stories can be.

Fortunately, he has detailed the fascinating step-by-step process by which he came about capturing this vision of otherworldly foreboding. You can trace his creative process at WildClaw Theatre – Backstage – Bringing Horror and the Supernatural to the Chicago Stage.

By Venus Zarris

WildClaw Theatre delivers a hauntingly atmospheric world premiere of The Dreams in the Witch House. Adapted from H. P. Lovecraft’s 1933 short story, it tells the eerie tale of a student who leaves home for college only to find himself in a strange town with dark and deadly secrets.

WildClaw Theatre is dedicated to presenting horror on stage and with their production ofWitch House they are well on their way to meeting that goal. Adaptor/Director Charley Sherman combines a charming cast with playful special effects to create a very entertaining rendition of this bizarre story. Although it’s not a ‘nail biter,’ it does represent a captivating effort to bring this unusual story to the stage, complete with inter-dimensional travel, fantastical creatures, brutal murder and blood spurting delights.

Where Witch House misses the mark is in its cumbersome pacing and less-than-engaging visual conceptualization. To be fare, this ambitious undertaking is no small endeavor. On a small stage WildClaw challenges itself with a story that includes two primary settings, a dingy attic bedroom and a prison cell, along with several supplemental locations including the 4thdimension.

Although Sherman peppers his script with a generous helping of irreverent humor, the dramatic build and tension are never fully realized. Some of the fantastical elements come off as more cartoonish than chilling. Still, given the talented and dedicated cast (with exceptional performances delivered by Kate Brown and J. David Moeller) and the genuinely creepy and fantastical moments, there are enough diabolical twists, turns and laughs to keep you engaged and entertained.

Witch House is a MUST SEE for horror fans. If WildClaw continues on this marvelously macabre path they might just achieve something nearly impossible; that is, a truly scary stage play.

2 ½ STARS

(“The Dreams in the Witch House” runs through December 21 at the Athenaeum Theater, 2936 N. Southport. 773-935-6860)

*CLOSING WEEKED!*

WildClaw Theatre – Bringing Horror and the Supernatural to the Chicago Stage