Theatre of NOTE
If you’re old school, like I am, there’s nothing more fun or frightening than listening to a good scary story on Halloween. The fine folks at Theatre of NOTE bring Halloween early with their eerie production of “Skeleton Stories.” Maya (Nina Harada) is on a quest to find her mother Corazón (Lorianne Hill) who died when Maya was a child. Her hardworking father (Joshua Wolf Coleman, coming out fresh from his previous role as the manipulative Aaron the Moor in “Titus Andronicus,”) tries to connect with Maya. He prepares dinner but she refuses. He says “good job” when she tells him that she’s on her period. He buys her maxi pads with wings to be helpful. Maya needs her mother to explain what is going on with her body. So, she says a prayer begging to see her one last time. Well, her wish comes true in the form of an unlikely source of a conniving Yellowdog (the hysterical Rick Steadman) a half man/half dog creature. Like Virgil did for Dante in the epic poem “Dante’s Inferno,” he serves as her guide into the underworld. Maya has to pass through levels of human and inhuman gunk to reach her goal. They cross the ocean where Yellowdog tells her what’s coming up and tries (unsuccessfully) to seduce her. In the midst of her search, there are stories that happen during her journey. There’s Buttercup (the funny Tricia Munford) who’s having issues desiring a clone. Once she does gets it, she realizes it was a bad idea. The lovelorn Christopher (Nicholas S. Williams) desperately misses his love Melissa and believes that’s she’s return as a butterfly. So, he keeps her in plastic jar. “Everybody’s got to get a little shit on their heels,” says Yellowdog. He’s referring to the river of shit that he and Maya pass but it pretty much describes their current situation and the people they come across.
Delondra Williams wrote a hysterical, poignant, and highly intelligent play. She based “Skeleton Stories” on Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) a Mexican holiday. There are some signs indicating the root of the play. The altar filled with crosses and skulls. Maya praying to one of the gods for help. Maya’s name derives from Mayan culture. The macabre dance the evil clown Mitch (Keith Allan) does with Maya’s mother Corazón (Lorianne Hill). He swings her around like a rag dog. Her eyes are lifeless and her movements are limp. It’s obvious that as part of her punishment, for whatever her sin was, she goes through the motions waiting for it to be over. Williams created an original tour de force that should be a staple at NOTE for the month of October. Williams’ play is, naturally, haunting, smart, funny and taboo. So while the kids are out trick-o-treating and getting their sugar high, don’t stay at home. Come on in and watch “Skelton Stories” and get a real treat!
Skeleton Stories plays Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m., and Sundays at 7 p.m. until Saturday, Nov. 6. At Theatre of NOTE located at 1517 N. Cahuenga in Hollywood, just north of Sunset. Reservations available online at www.theatreofnote.com