Looking back, it was pretty funny that I was so stressed out about not getting a good seat on Friday to watch "Even More Old-Fashioned Candy" at the Nightingale Theater. I was in a complete rush to get my group of gal pals to the play on time so we could be up front.
As we finally reached Peoria via 11th St., I called the a friend who was meeting us there, "Do you have our seats?" I asked nervously. "Na, man, there is no problem with seating," she said.
Whew! So, a right on 4th street and a block down, there she was, the Nightingale Theater. We parked on the curb about a block up and went into meet our friend who was at the concessions stand.
No wonder there wasn't problem with seating: there was no one there. My three friends and I made up half of the audience. Oh well, now we could sit wherever we wanted. And we did, after we each bought an ice-cold, surprisingly reasonably priced beer. You won't find that at the movies!
I was a little nervous about the play. I had spoken with Amber Whitlatch, one of the owner/operators of the Nightingale Theater and marketing director for Midwestern Theater Troupe, a couple weeks prior to get the dirt on this month-long run play.
"The material is very spooky but cerebral and real," she said. "These people are writing from their own experience and it is very scary."
Maybe my fear had to do with my preconceived thoughts: this is going to be madness; I am going to get scared. At this point, I thought of it as maybe a spook house where you could find things/people jumping out from the darkness. I kept thinking, "I hope I don't pee in my pants."
The band began to play the opening music. It wasn't scary. I enjoyed listening. It was soft, inviting and maybe made me want to groove a little. Then the music was building and building and grew some tension . . .
what was next?? Then it stopped. I could not help but to burst into clapping. I looked around. I was the only one. The drummer said, "Thanks."
Another reason I may have been frightened, is that I had never been much of a theatergoer. I wouldn't say my mind is closed to new things or that I am not interested in theater art, but it seemed that live-theater was something I attended for extra points in my Intro to Theater class a couple years back. Heaven forbid I would get bored.
Is Halloween time for having sex? Is Halloween time for getting it on? According to the first act titled "Halloween Time" it is. What a fun song and dance. Bored? Not so much. The singing, the dancing, the sounds of orgasmic bliss, I was no longer scared. I knew that I would be OK.
"It's Just a Game" was a sketch where a group of high-school students were hanging out at a friend's house when her parents weren't home. The group was obviously using this girl for a place to drink beer, smoke pot and make out.
The naïve hostess suggested playing with the Ouija board. A few of the friends joined her. At the end of the scene you realize the kids should have listened to the message that the spirit was providing.
Then there was a scene with a passionate CPR instructor talking about his experiences. There were many laughs. I, however, was still trying to understand this live-theater thing. It takes a lot of commitment by the viewer. This scene became disturbing when he recalled performing CPR on a woman with osteoporosis.
I will always have a special bond with "Costume Shop." It was about a woman who owns costume shop and had run it for many years. She was telling stories about her past experiences. This is when I realized I understand. I'm not sure why this was the scene that did it for me, but I laughed a lot and realized it is up to me to create the scene beyond what is already laid out for me. It takes imagination.
"Poison Candy" reminded me of a saloon. There were red lights and girls in boas singing and dancing. It was sassy and fun. Also, the kind ladies handed out suckers to the audience. Made me wonder if it was the old-fashioned poison candy we had come to consume. Who cared, I was having a great time. After all, I realized by now I had become a sucker...for the theater anyways.
The statement, "Hello, welcome to hell" began Scene Eight "Devils in Hell." It was about a girl who had just arrived into hell. She was a little disappointed, for she had expected demons and a lot of fire. The two hell mongers who welcomed her were, ironically by the end of the scene, offended by her demeanor.
"Stalker," is about a girl making a call to the police. It beings with "Hello, my name is Tiffany Krueger. There is someone in the house." OK, so I guess this may be getting a little bit scary.
"Mothers Mousetrap" portrays the pressures young women have when it comes to having sex before they are psychologically ready. The young man and young woman are in the attic playing around. The young man is trying to talk her into giving it up. The girl's mother interrupts them. She sends her daughter downstairs and has a heart-to-heart talk with the young man.
"What would you do for love?" she keeps asking him. In the end, you find out real quick his idea of love. This one is a shocker, but it proves a point.
I was unable to concentrate during "Little Fly." Two of my friends went to the restroom--and just to let you know, the audience can hear you if you talk in there. Judging by the other skits, I am sure it was fabulous. But, I could not get over the muffled voices coming from the back.
"Witch of Coos" was captivating. It was a reading from this Robert Frost piece. The story was acted out in shadow puppets. All I could do was watch. This is when I realized that each and every scene connects differently with each and every viewer.
After intermission was when things got a little chaotic. All I can say about "Cleansing" without giving too much is naked women wrapped in plastic cling, a corpse, a penis and live worms. "Was that a real penis?" we wondered.
"Chode" quickly made me forget about the disturbance from "Cleansing." I thought this was the funniest sketch: a dude, his inebriated stories and a lot of laughter from the audience. You do know what "Smoking Chode" is, right?
"Bracken Fiddlehead" was an interesting story. Two women were having a conversation, but I could barely pay attention to what they were saying because of the masked guy with a sock for a penis. This is when one of my friends said, "I think I may laugh at the wrong parts."
When you hear "Sympathy for the Devil," you know the play is coming to an end. There is too much to give away by describing every scene, so you just have to go see for yourself.
So, can I tell you what "Old-Fashioned Poison Candy" is? No, because it is different for everyone. I have learned that each person also has his or her own interpretation of each scene. I don't know a lot about theater, but going in not knowing anything helped me to understand, there is no right or wrong interpretation. You can make of it whatever you want.
What you have already missed at the Nightingale for this fall include:
Oct. 20-21, 10 p.m.-Go see some grown up and glittered fun with choreographed stage performances of some "classy broads" in "Eye Candy Burlesque."
What you still can see:
Nov. 1-4, 8 p.m. -Various improv companies present the Third Annual Tulsa Area Comedy Micro Festival. It is a "Who's Line is it Anyway?" style. The audience participates by offering suggestion to get this night started.
Nov. 9-11 and 16-18, 8p.m.- The Theater Club presents "The Pillowman," written by Martin McDonagh. "The Pillowman" is about as short-story author who is in hot water because death has taken several children in the same way portrayed in his stories.
It is classified as a dark and disturbing comedy that makes you laugh even though you may not feel right about it. Are these murders coincidentally parallel to these stories or is there something someone is hiding?
Dec. 1-2, 7:30 p.m. and Dec. 3, 2 p.m. - Youth Onstage Presents "Done to Death," by Fred Carmichael. "Done to Death" is a mystery comedy in which five "has been" writers juggle problems writing a mystery series for television. Murders begin to present themselves and the writers try to solve these mysteries with their own individualistic styles.
"The Eight: Reindeer Monologues," by Jeff Goode, is tentatively scheduled for mid-December. This dark-Christmas comedy begins with one of the reindeer accusing Santa Claus of sexual harassment. Each of the reindeers' confessions brings this story closer to the truth. Could Santa do such a thing? And, if so, will Christmas ever be the same?
There is also an exciting winter season planned with "Vaudeville at the Nightingale," presented by Youth Onstage and the Midwestern Theater Troupe and "Pretty Boy Floyd" written by John Cruncleton, Midwestern Theater Troupe's artistic director.
The Midwestern Theater Troupe's mission "has focused on exploring cultural archetypes through theatrical performance. We feel that these archetypes make up the foundation of our thoughts as a society, that the tale is more powerful than the sermon, that a simple good story supercedes the most advanced system of philosophy."
Whitlach said The Troupe decides what shows to produce and host based on a complicated mathematical theorem developed by Bertolt Brecht. "Original, experimental, and contemporary works with local meaning and flavor are given priority."
Go get your taste of "Even More Old-Fashioned Poison Candy" this Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. Eight dollars is a small price to pay for two hours of entertainment, followed by many more of discussion. But, if you have not been able to make the assumption yourself: DON'T BRING THE KIDS. This is for mature audiences only. What a way to get a group of friends together and do something different. You will be glad you did. I hope I never again have to see an empty seat at the Nightingale.
"Live theater is kind of dying off," said Amber. "But it is like no other art form. There is something about live theater, you are sitting in the audience and you get it -you are connected."
For more information on the Nightingale Theater, visit its Web site www.nightingaletheater.com or call 918-583-8487. The Nightingale Theater is located at 1416 E. 4th St. (one block east of Peoria).
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