Gorey Stories | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

Gorey Stories 

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Gorey Stories, Blindfaith Theatre, at Angel Island. What better season for a show based on stories by Edward Gorey, master of overcast skies and morbid mirth? Best known for The Gashlycrumb Tinies (26 letters, 26 quaintly gruesome child deaths) and the Mystery! series titles, author-illustrator Gorey offers the perfect example of metaphorical form: just as his ghostly manors seem to float on a sea of darkness, a taciturn Death lurks behind his starkly lit vignettes, waiting for the characters to stray beyond their edges. That sense of fatality will challenge a stage presentation, as will the 3-D rendition of a 2-D pen-and-ink drawing. But in this musical adaptation of 18 stories, Blindfaith resists bowdlerization, instead applying its formidable talents to a faithful treatment. Letting the work speak for itself is absolutely the right call.

Most astonishing is the incorporation of music, set to Gorey's verses and accompanying the action; David Aldrich's gorgeous, understated score is perfectly played by pianist Ellie Barta-Moran and violinists Christopher Gagnon and Natalie Gardner, who enhance the spectral mood without overwhelming the words. Sound effects designer Deanne Dalgaard isn't far behind, providing tidy reports of offstage disaster. Set designer William Crowley meticulously re-creates Gorey's style down to the crosshatched details; every cast member sings and acts at an elegant, professional level; and director Nick Minas deserves a rose on his grave for marshaling all this into a sparklingly coherent whole.

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