From What Pestilent Bower Did
Eric Woolfe and Samara Nicholds
formed Eldritch Theatre in 1999. Its mandate is to present original Canadian
plays with strong narratives, involving elements of the uncanny or supernatural.
These plays are to explore innovations in staging, including the extensive
incorporation of puppetry, mask, and a post-Brechtian approach to staging the
Theatre’s inaugural work, The Strange & Eerie Memoirs of Billy
premiered at Summerworks 1999 where it won rave revues and an honourable mention
for the Jury Award for Best Play. It was then expanded and remounted at Buddies
in Bad Times Theatre in April of 2000, and for a third time at London’s Grand
Theatre. Wuthergloom is a musical play for solo actor, live musician and
a bevy of creepy puppets designed and operated by the performer, Woolfe. Robert
Crew of the Toronto Star called it, “quirky, funny, unusual and certainly
worth a look” and declared it his favourite play of Summerworks ’99. Jon
Kaplan of NOW Magazine said Wuthergloom was “charming and chilling at
the same time… NNNN.”
Sideshow of the Damned, a ghoulishly light-hearted horror anthology, premiered at Summerworks 2001 and was remounted at the Tims Sims playhouse for Halloween of 2002. It was nominated for a Canadian Comedy award, and named one of Eye Magazine’s ten best plays of 2001. The Toronto Star said Sideshow was “The stuff from which nightmares are made... A deliciously demented romp...Eric Woolfe is a master of the suburban-gothic genre!” Eye Magazine declared “Eric Woolfe writes like Edward Gorey drew.... Undeniably grim and funny.”
Eldritch Theatre’s most ambitious work to date was Grendelmaus, (Dora Award Nomination for Outstanding New Play) which enjoyed a three week run at the Berkley Street Upstairs Theatre, during June of 2002. It told the tragic tale of a doomed love between an over-educated file clerk, a former circus entertainer and an ancient malevolent mouse. It was performed by Eric Woolfe (Dora Award Nomination for Outstanding Performance by a Male) and Mary Francis Moore, and a supporting cast of thirty puppets, raging in height from five inches to thirteen feet, all operated by Woolfe and Moore. Michael Waller directed. Joanne Dente designed (Dora Award for Best Costume Design). Reviews were once again enthusiastic. The Toronto Star wrote, “The writing is impishly literate... No one is able to blend fantasy and theatre in quite the way that Woolfe does. If you are in the mood for theatrical whimsy, this is a show to relish... Four Stars.” The Globe & Mail added, “Ironically, using puppets as secondary characters makes the fantastical elements of the story seem more believable. Highly fanciful, the puppets range from crude to astounding... Grendelmaus is an intelligent and highly satisfying piece of fantasy."Aside from developing Dear Boss, Eldritch Theatre is also hard at work on two more theatre projects, Chichimus Waylaid, a supernatural tragedy about the early days of the CBC, and Ratcatchers, a grand guignol comedy which explores the Pied Piper legend and the world of urban mythology.
Egad! Send me back!