'Dead of Night' review: Lively horror

Vicki Milach, left, and Judy McCormick star in

Vicki Milach, left, and Judy McCormick star in the "Dead of Night" one-act "The Family Crypt" at Bare Bones Theatre Company in Northport through Feb. 16, 2013. (Credit: Handout)

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Let's face it. A horror fantasy that takes itself seriously -- with the possible exception of a Stephen King novel -- isn't to be taken, you know, seriously. We're all grown-ups. At least, I hope all of us in the upstairs space occupied by the Bare Bones Theater Company are, in part, because of the coarse language that laces each macabre one-act play in the world premiere of Glen Cove author Frederick Stroppel's "Dead of Night."

The evening begins with a light touch -- if you don't mind eavesdropping on the dead.

In "The Family Crypt," Helen, an amusingly exasperated Christine Jordan, is the latest in her clan to pass on. She's annoyed that she was laid out in a striped dress. Get over it, Helen's ancestors tell her. It's a waste of time, they say -- even in eternity, which is about how long Emily (Judy McCormick) and Carol (Vicki Milach) have been playing chess. Emily has waited two days for Carol's next move. All the crypt-mates are ladies. (Men never hang around, we're told, because, "They're not married anymore.")

Living descendants know the place, especially since Helen was recently interred there. The mausoleum is invaded by a living niece, Mallory (a seductively new-millennium girl as played by Tania Mucci), and her hormonally malleable boyfriend, Justin (Brian Elliott). They're about to do what young couples do when they're up to no good. Except they have an existential climax in mind, superseding the usual punctuation to their carnal exertions.

Following intermission, the crypt is transformed into a neighborhood tavern. The playwright drops many Long Island place names in "The Hunter's Moon," set in a Glen Cove bar that could be the one Stroppel's family ran for a century. It's Halloween Eve -- we can tell from the orange-and-black crepe of Philip Jordan's tavern set. Jimmy, a no-nonsense bartender as played by Sean King, keeps threatening last call. His loser bar patrons Shep (John Dorcic) and Cooney (William Mercado) spin mindless banter about a full-moon serial killer who's left a body trail across the tristate area. One of the ne'er-do-wells has a date on this full-moon night. Costumed as a devil, Katie, a potty-mouthed flirt as played by Lisa Rozza Haft, instigates fisticuffs with a stranger (an intimidating RJ Meyer) who fits the mass-murder profile. The twist to Stroppel's delicious noir -- crisply directed by Jeff Bennett and Lee Meyer -- justifies the long buildup.

"Dead of Night" makes for a lively evening worthy, yes, even of Stephen King.

 

WHAT "Dead of Night"

WHEN | WHERE Friday and Saturday nights at 8, Sunday at 3 p.m. through Feb. 17, Posey School, 57 Main St., Northport

INFO $25; barebonestheater.com, 800-838-3006

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