Sustaining a mood of terror in any theatrical event is a tough job, but evoking horror in a tiny black box is almost impossible, something the team behind The Blood Brothers Present...The Master of Horror have learned the hard way. Buried beneath an overwhelmingly shoddy production are three highly atmospheric one-acts adapted from Stephen King short stories, yearning to slither under the audience's skin. But it's hard for "Nona" — the evening's best offering — to remain creepy when corpses get up and walk off stage.
But that's theater. Having dead men pick up fallen fedoras and scurry into the wings is forgivable. What is not forgivable is a lightboard operator flipping switches willy-nilly; a stage manager wandering on stage in the middle of a scene to carry off a door and remembering too late that she should be wearing a mask; or props that fall apart at the slightest touch.
Luckily, the acting almost makes up for the disappointing production. With a single, brilliant ad lib after a make-shift car fell apart, Jeremy Goren would have been the evening's standout. But he also brings a surprising blend of pathos and humor to "Nona" and delivers a satisfyingly over-the-top turn in the evening's closer, "In the Deathroom." Draggingly staged by Pete Boisvert, the latter one-act is easily the evening's weakest offering, showing no one off to advantage. "Quitters, Inc.," the second one-act, is unconvincingly acted by Michael Criscuolo and Marc Landers as a smoker and the man who'll make him stop or else, respectively.
Padded with two brief, overly elaborate vignettes about real-life horror stories with a connection to King, The Master of Horror never quite delivers on its potential to be a creepy-crawly night at the theater
Presented by Nosedive Productions
at the Gene Frankel Underground, 24 Bond St., NYC.
Oct. 9-Nov. 1. Thurs.-Sat., 7:30 p.m.
(212) 352-3101 or www.theatermania.com.