Review: Scream, Queen, Scream! (Hell in a Handbag Productions)

| September 29, 2015

Kristopher Bottrall and Rachel Hadlock star in Hell in a Handbag's "Scream, Queen, Scream!" by David Cerda, directed by Wm. Bullion. (photo credit: Rick Aguilar Studios)      
      
Scream, Queen, Scream! 

Written by David Cerda  
at Mary’s Attic, 5400 N. Clark (map)
thru Oct 31 |  tix: $22-$30  | more info
       
Check for half-price tickets    
    


    
  

Hell is another peephole in this riotous ode to serial scares!

  

Chad, Ed Jones, Terry McCarthy and Rachel Hadlock in Hell in a Handbag's "Scream, Queen, Scream!" by David Cerda, directed by Wm. Bullion. (photo credit: Rick Aguilar Studios)

    
Hell in a Handbag Productions presents
    
Scream, Queen, Scream!

Review by Clint May 

Right off the (vampire) bat, let me just say the newly remodeled space at Mary’s Attic is a vast, vast improvement. With the bar relocated to the far side (as opposed to the center), this latest production is much more enjoyable with the sound of rattling ice and people ordering drinks removed. The entire space has been opened up and made more “official,” and it increases the enjoyment of the proceedings immeasurably.

David Cerda and Lolly Extract in Hell in a Handbag's "Scream, Queen, Scream!" by David Cerda, directed by Wm. Bullion. (photo credit: Rick Aguilar Studios)And this is some pretty enjoyable stuff.

Hell comes to the Handbag for their annual Halloween offering with a 3-for-the-price-of-1 production. Growing up in the 80s and 90s, I remember vividly staying up late to watch the serial creature features that inspired David Cerda’s Scream, Queen, Scream!. They were hokey, campy, self-aware, intentionally (and unintentionally) hilarious, gory, shoddily made—everything Hell in a Handbag adores. I don’t know what the fascination was back then. Maybe it was as simple as the idea that this was late night TV shocksplotation theatre and I was being “bad” by watching it. Whatever it was, it greatly increased the depths of my appreciation for this latest offering with all its winks and nods to the golden age of B-movie horror.

Overseen by the mistress of scaremonies, Dragula (the inimitable John Cardone in a mile-high mashup of Elvira and the Cryptkeeper), the triptych of tales begins in the most horrific place imaginable: the office (cue the ‘Dun Dun Dunnssss!’). A new temp (newcomer Rachel Hadlock) is a bitch outta Hades who’s infiltrating the secretary pool to feed these facile fawns to the demon that lives in (or is?) the Office Master 3000.  It copies, faxes, and slashes as former alpha-gal Candy-with-a-C (Kristopher Bottrall, with a K) tries to save her fellow Taco Tuesday lovin’ ditzes from the maw of Satan.

A deathless yeti from the Arctic helps a hapless hubby (Chad) deal with his vile wife (author David Cerda) in “The Box”. When a chronic masturbating janitor (Laura Coleman) discovers a mysterious crate beneath the stairs at a university, havoc ensues when the contents prove carnivorous. If divorce isn’t an option, try a devouring demon for all your marriage woes (if only George and Martha had this option…)

Southern Gothic gets its devil’s due with the final offering when identical twins Aggie and Maggie (Ed Jones) cope with the fallout of some crazy Cajun goings-ons that defy plot synopsis because, as cousin Muriel (Jamie Smith) notes, they’re basically mashing it up as they go along.

Christea Parent, Kristopher Bottrall and Rachel Hadlock in Hell in a Handbag's "Scream, Queen, Scream!" by David Cerda, directed by Wm. Bullion. (photo credit: Rick Aguilar Studios) Caitlin Coleman in Hell in a Handbag's "Scream, Queen, Scream!" by David Cerda, directed by Wm. Bullion. (photo credit: Rick Aguilar Studios)Ed Jones, Christea Parent and Jamie Smith in Hell in a Handbag's "Scream, Queen, Scream!" by David Cerda, directed by Wm. Bullion. (photo credit: Rick Aguilar Studios)

This cauldron of campy comedy bubbles over with Handbag’s patented brand of lovable skewering. My cheeks hurt from laughter by show’s end. There’s something incredibly endearing about low-rent production values and 80s styled drag that imbues every production. This time around there’s even some absolutely uproarious shadow puppeteering courtesy of Lolly Extract that fill in some scenes and cover the crew as they do another whiplash costume change.

In a cast this large it’s hard to have favorites, but once again Ed Jones stole the show with his dual turn as Aggie and Maggie. I won’t even give away any of the numerous gags that are used to get the ‘twins’ on stage at the same time, but one reveal had me doubled over. Jamie Smith has a small role but his comic timing and vocal inflection are just so darn on point he owns every little morsel.

Handbag is one of those brand names that I have watched actually get better over the years. Director Wm. Bullion does a fantastic job juggling the cast in his first time out, the pacing all feels right and you never care that half the time the plot makes zero sense because this is all about the next hilarious one liner or the physical slapstick (emphasis on the slap!). I’d pay just to watch John Cardone comment sardonically on anything in that getup.

  
Rating: ★★★★
  
   

Scream, Queen, Scream! continues through October 31st at Mary’s Attic, 5400 N. Clark (map), with performances Thursdays-Saturdays at 7:30pm, Sundays 6:30pm.  Tickets are $22-$30, and are available by phone (800-838-3006) or online through BrownPaperTickets.com (check for half-price tickets at Goldstar.com). More information at HandbagProductions.org(Running time: 90 minutes without intermission)

Terry McCarthy, David Cerda and Chad in Hell in a Handbag's "Scream, Queen, Scream!" by David Cerda, directed by Wm. Bullion. (photo credit: Rick Aguilar Studios)

Photos by Rick Aguilar Studios 


  

artists

cast

Chazie Bly (Sheila, Waiter/Oswald, Beauregard), Kristopher Bottrall (Candy, Tom Neidemayer, Body Double), John Cardone (Dragula), David Cerda (Betty Carr), Chad (Carol, Harvey Carr, Big Daddy), Caitlin Coleman (Nancy, Agnes), Laura Coleman (Kandy, Shirley), Rachel Hadlock (Mary Satana, Jean Neidermayer), Ed Jones (Jeffrey Thompson, Maggie and Aggie Honeycutt), Shiv Mann (Amir Kamaliazad, Jack Bradley, Suitor #1), Terry McCarthy (Brittany, Felicia, Biff), Christea Parent (Amber, Birdy), Jamie Smith (Whitley, Miriam)

behind the scenes

Wm. Bullion (director), Shade Murray (creative consultant), Lolly Extract (puppet design), Kate Setzer-Kamphausen (costume design), Mikey Moran (sound design), Mitchell Anthony (set design and technical director) Mealah Heidenreich (props design), Cat Wilson (lighting design), Christopher Carpenter (fight choreography), Jamie Crothers (stage manager), Rick Aguilar Studios (photos)

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Category: 2015 Reviews, Clint May, Comedy, Hell in a Handbag, Mary's Attic, New Work, Parody, World Premier

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