A perfect example of what independent theater should be, the exploration of alternative origins of classic horror icons proves to be funny, entertaining, and sometimes scary.
By John Lavitt
North Hollywood, CA (The Hollywood Times) 09/12/2022 – When it comes to independent theatre in Los Angeles or anywhere else, you tend to be rolling the dice regarding the quality of productions. Although not as evident as hit or miss, there exists a considerable morass of mediocrity between the two. As a result, it is a pleasant surprise and a true pleasure when you stumble upon an innovative production like Tales from Tomorrow: Origins from Force of Nature Productions at The Brickhouse Theatre in North Hollywood.
With six one-act tales on a single night, the production delivers intriguing new looks at classic horror icons, including vampires, mummies, the Wolfman, the Invisible Man, Frankenstein, and the Creature from the Black Lagoon. Written by six different writers and directed by five different directors, the night out provides a potpourri of horrific juggling. From a futuristic wolf woman in a spaceship to the descendants of the Creature from the Black Lagoon seeking revenge, the storylines are broad, often funny, and quite intelligent. If one thing is lacking from the productions, the fear factor is downplayed. More designed to be fun ruminations for fans, these mini-plays keep the horrific to the minimum, avoiding obvious haunted house ploys.
With short running times and direct storylines, the exploration of each icon is short and sweet. Thus, if you do not jibe with one take on a classic, you know another is just around the corner. As the project’s artistic director, Sebastian Muñoz knows how to keep the night moving with a positive tone of joviality and acceptance. Moreover, although they tackle complex subjects like coming out of the closet, the nature of friendship, and class relations, the plays work perfectly well for kids as well. The several young people in the audience, ranging from little kids to teenagers, seemed to enjoy the proceedings.
From this reviewer’s perspective, the two best pieces came after intermission. His Name is Frankenstein (written by Jeff Folschinsky and directed by Cory Chappell), and Invisible (written by Tom Jones and directed by Samantha Marquis) were both shocking and profound. I must not give too much away, so I will focus on the broad strokes. Frankenstein sets up the resonant notion that Dr. Victor Von Frankenstein is addicted to creating monsters that suffer terribly because all his experiments are ultimately failures.
As the original creation, Frankenstein (played with a wrenched passion by Kyle Felts) wants nothing but to stop this cycle of suffering. He represents the original sin that continues to be propagated by a man who cannot stop himself from doing more harm. Intentions matter not when suffering is the constant product of this man. As a human being in long-term recovery from horrific drug addiction, I was touched deeply by this story. It took the classic tale and applied it remarkably to one of the true horrors of modern life.
The second piece that continues to resonate is Invisible. Given the overturning of Roe v. Wade in 2022, what is invisible is a life that has yet to enter the world. Carlos Chavez is strangely touching, playing the unborn child who may or may not be invisible. Even though he is a young man who looks nothing like a baby, you identify and connect with his desperation to be born and become a part of the world.
Finally, not to ruin anything, director Samantha Marquis pulls a rabbit out of her hat with the best scare of the night. It was the only moment one of the young kids was affected, and a few tears rolled down those innocent cheeks. However, the kid was perfectly fine moments later, and there was no cause to worry. In truth, it was a pleasure to have a little jump near the end to underscore that these are horror stories, after all.