Dan Bianchi's The Mole People is all about urban legends that are, well, really urban. Below the streets of New York, all kinds of hideous monsters lurk in our beloved city's subway tunnels. Apparently, unsuspecting commuters disappear from train platforms every day, dragged to their grisly deaths by oversized alligators, satanic cults, and a cannibalistic tribe of feral albinos. And you thought the rats were bad.
But New Yorkers don't scare easily, and The Mole People's awkward attempt at auditory story theatre isn't exactly chilling. Clad in a black trench coat and fedora, actor Jerry Lazar reads a collection of ghost stories in ripped-from-the-headlines fashion, accompanied by a soundtrack of ominous chords, eerie synths, and monster-movie sound effects. Both the soundtrack and the stories are, sadly, one note. While there's certainly something worth exploring about our collective fear of terrorism in the subways — and our government's response to it — The Mole People never achieves the moments of fear it so desperately craves. Audiences may find themselves stifling giggles rather than screams of horror.
Presented by RadioTheatre as part of the New York International Fringe Festival at the Players Theatre, 115 MacDougal St., NYC. Aug. 9-20. Remaining performances: Thu., Aug. 14, 5 p.m.; Sat., Aug. 16, 9:45 p.m.; Wed., Aug. 20, 3:30 p.m. (212) 279-4488 or (866) 468-7619 or www.fringenyc.org.