Scary Home Companion | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

Scary Home Companion 

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SCARY HOME COMPANION, Lifeline Theatre. This 90-minute meditation on the macabre features sardonically spooky songs and sketches by Chicago playwright-composer Eric Lane Barnes. Ranging from campy versions of urban legends to audience-based improv to a very unironic depiction of a premature burial, this show includes a pun-laden scene centered on a family making "arm soup" and the ghoul who wants his limb back, a feminist allegory about a dead woman (the unflinching Tina Martin) whose rigor mortis brings her social success, and a blues trio, "I Ain't Got No Body," sung by three decapitated heads.

Strewn with amputated limbs and nerve-shattering screams, John Hildreth's Second City-style staging takes a hit-and-run approach to Barnes's uneasy blend of gallows humor, mordant philosophizing, and pop satire. Soren McCarthy is the wry narrator who announces that the dead just want us to leave them alone and that killing is humanity's default mode. Heidi Gottcent plays a zombielike prom queen who collects dead dates, Rodrick Jean-Charles is a dead man condemned to relive his fiery demise, and John Cabrera an ecstatic soul who enters the afterlife during a cab ride. Funniest is the ever interesting Maggie Carney, who explodes when her boring husband asks for peach pie once too often.

Scary Home Companion would work better if it moved consistently from the campy to the creepy (or vice versa) rather than awkwardly mixing its moods. But it remains devilish entertainment very happy in its horror. --Lawrence Bommer

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