Hands of Orlac | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

Hands of Orlac 

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HANDS OF ORLAC, Black Cat Productions, at Stage Left Theatre. I've never seen the classic 1935 horror film Mad Love, starring Peter Lorre and Frances Drake, but I'm told by friends and movie guides alike that it's not to be missed.

You'd never know it from Black Cat Productions' stage version. Unable to decide whether its adaptation is homage or send-up, the troupe is never funnier than when it seriously tries to build suspense, as when the evil Dr. Gogol (Patrick Couillard) first opens his mouth and out comes an imitation of Peter Lorre so bad it could only have been learned listening to Firesign Theatre's Nick Danger albums. The show's direct attempts at humor are painfully stupid, as when a slatternly house servant repeatedly tries to wring laughs out of a stuffed parrot she unaccountably wears on her shoulder. It's hard to decide whether to hiss or just sigh and look at your watch, the way all but the most easily amused friends and family papering the house did on opening night. --Jack Helbig

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