This October, San Francisco's Thrillpeddlers are peddling a special thrill from the turn of the century: Grand Guignol-style theatre. A major French tourist attraction from 1897-1962, the Grand Guignol produced horror plays that often depicted shocking decapitations, dismemberments and bloody finales worthy of modern slasher films. Very few of the plays have ever been translated in English and performed in the United States.
For the third year running, Thrillpeddlers present their evening of Grand Guignol, Shocktoberfest! 2001: Carnival of Hallucinations Oct. 4 Nov. 10 at the EXIT Theatre. Shocktoberfest includes two French horror plays from 1929 translated and performed for the first time in English, Maker of Monsters and Kiss of Blood.
Set in a carnival, Max Maury's Maker of Monsters features a stunning array of freaks, specially created by the head of the sideshow. Not satisfied with his current work, he pushes himself beyond reason to craft the ultimate thing of beauty and art. In Jean Aragny and Frances Neilson's Kiss of Blood, a man is painfully tormented by demons, which his doctors struggle to understand. Both plays were adapted by Daniel Zilber.
A typical Grand Guignol technique, called the Scottish Shower, was to intersperse comedies and sex farces in between the horrific dramas. Thrillpeddlers' comedies include the world premiere of Zilber's The Torture of Cabaradossi, a musical comedy based on the off-stage action in Puccini's Tosca and two vignettes featuring the Thrillpeddlers' foot fetishists, The Barefoot Beauties.
Directing the shows are Russell Blackwood and Gregory Hoffman. The Thrillpeddlers cast is Paula Arciniega, Guy Balontine, Kimberly Davis Basso, Gwynne Flanagan, Jonathan Gonzalez, Lisa Jenai Hernandez, Emily Jordan, Kim Larsen, Anna Laveria May, Blackwood and Zilber. No one under 18 will be admitted. Tickets are $18, The EXIT Theatre is located at 156 Eddy Street. For reservations, call (415) 820-1400. Thrillpeddlers are on the web at http://www.thrillpeddlers.com.
— By Christine Ehren