Thursday, May 09, 2013

Hemophelia's House of Horrors

Presented by The Visceral Company

review by Andrew Moore

Lara Fisher is Hemophelia, the ghoul of cool and hostess of Hemophelia's House of Horrors, an all-new horror-themed comedy/variety show now playing at the Lex Theatre through June 8.
The Visceral Company presents a frightfully fun excursion into laugh-out-loud funny horror; an eclectic collection of sketches that range from macabre jokes to horror movie satire, with occasional artistic and technical flourishes that elevate this from being a mere sketch comedy show to something truly worth seeing.

Lara Fisher is Hemophelia, our host, our sexy Crypt Keeper-ette. She fills the space between the sketches with songs (Matt DeNoto has composed some truly funny stuff here) and goriously bad puns, but most importantly keeps the show moving along. Her name is in the title, but Hemophelia (like all good emcees) knows the show isn't just about her. We get just enough of her dark wackiness that we want more.

Hemophelia's House of Horrors, an all-new horror-themed comedy/variety show now playing at the Lex Theatre through June 8, features (top center) Lara Fisher as Hemophelia, the ghoul of cool, and a comedy troupe of (clockwise from bottom) Brian Prisco, Cloie Wyatt Taylor, Cynthia Zitter, Torrey Halverson, Matt DeNoto, Samm Hill, and Casey Christensen.
Three sketches in particular stand out. In "Organ Grinder," Samm Hill and Matt DeNoto play out the kind of high-concept terror I associate with Tales from the Crypt, Shock SuspenStories, and other EC horror comics. It has its funny moments, but the sketch is a statement about addiction and loss served up with the heavy-handed, gorily metaphoric moralizing EC Comics is known for. Hill and DeNoto give the right amount of fully-committed scenery chewing, and the piece serves as a nice break from more conventional sketch comedy fare, such as the parody of the Friday the 13th movies that precedes it.

"Habeus Corpus," created and directed by Jana Wimer, is a trippy piece of puppetry magic. A disembodied head and hands dig through a trash can, pulling out bits and pieces of garbage to assemble a body. Spooky and fun with a startling ending. Like "Organ Grinder," it's not the sort of fare you would expect in a sketch show, but the otherworldly eeriness contributes to the overall vibe of the night.

"Karmic Retribution" exemplifies what this troupe is capable of with straight up sketch comedy. A genre-twisting take on the "axe-wielding maniac" trope, three survivors lock themselves in a cabin and let their true feelings be known about a fourth friend who was slaughtered offstage. Casey Christensen, Cloie Wyatt Taylor, and Cynthia Zitter play up the imperiled campers, giving a more dimensional portrayal of the victim archetypes from conventional horror. The piece builds tension through its staging, releasing bits of that tension through humor until the grim and hilarious end. It is delightful.

This show is a lot of fun, and I recommend braving the horrible parking to take it in. (Parking is a nightmare. Get there a little early, expect to do laps, and pay attention to the signs before committing to a spot. You may have to park a few blocks away from the venue.)

Hemophelia's House of Horrors opens its doors Fridays and Saturdays at 10:30 pm through June 8th (there are no performances on May 17th or 18th) and may also be visited during Hollywood Fringe Festival on Tuesday, June 11th at 8pm and Thursday, June 13th at 10:30pm. The Visceral Company is in residence at The Lex Theatre, 6760 Lexington Avenue in Hollywood. Nearest cross street is Highland.

Tickets are $15 via Brown Paper Tickets, but you may use the code "HEMO" at check-out for a $5 discount. More information may be found on The Visceral Company website.

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