For a decade, Spectral Theatre Society haunted stages across Vancouver with genre tales ranging from horror, fantasy and science fiction. Now after a brief hiatus, Spectral has returned to the scene at this year’s Vancouver Fringe Festival with a greatest hits package of shorts. They have relaunched with their classic summer tradition, the Late-Night Double Feature: two spooky one-act plays, much like a grindhouse drive-in double feature crossed with The Twilight Zone. And this run’s two-for-one is a pair of Spectral’s most beloved stories.
The first is Pyewacket, a tale of an orphan girl and her super-natural ragdoll come to life. It is honestly a very slow start to the show, with a lengthy bout of dull exposition right off the top. However once we get to the titular doll, things really pick up. Its use of sparse stage and lighting works quite to its benefit, casting hard shadows on most of the proceedings. While the action is sometimes on the silly side, there is a serious undercurrent to the story that leaves it very unsettling. Pyewacket definitely brings the creepy-factor to the table.
The second is a surreal piece called To The Moon With The Devil. The narrative takes place entirely in the lead character’s dreamscape and thus has a continuous sense of the uncanny where things are never quite right… until they hit the truly bizarre. While Pyewacket‘s cast was well enough, the cast here raise the bar much higher with some truly dark and eerie turns. Sadly, some of the lighting disappoints here, where some attempted effects seem to have been too subtle for most audience members to notice, but that is a minor concern here. It may not have some of the shock value of Pyewacket, but To The Moon With The Devil is a very engaging story who’s mood carries you through to an unnerving finish.
The whole affair is presented with old fashioned intro music and a radio play-style host with a pitch-perfect evil cackle. It even includes a public service announcement during the “intermission”. It sets the mood perfectly for what is to come. So if you’re you’re looking for some tongue-in-cheek spookiness, I suggest welcoming back the masters at Spectral Theatre.