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Ghost Stories: Theater review by Helen Shaw
Time is running out to catch the wonderful Ghost Stories—it only plays through May 16, and if you wait for the weekend shows, you'll need to get to Williamsburg without the L train. But I managed it, even without the subway, and the nights are beautiful right now; it was a meditative treat to walk alone through the darkened neighborhood, ambling beneath underpasses, then entering into an even blacker, existential dark for the show.
The group Tiny Little Band (and its designer Carolyn Mraz) have turned the warehouse-chic Cloud City into a cozy living room, full of curios bathed in lamplight. You snuggle into your chosen couch, but soon the lights go out, and a placid voice warns you that anything could happen when they go on again. “Your neighbor may be gone,” she warns. “The floor may be covered in beetles and worms.”
A light snaps on. Peering at us over his flashlight, Dan Kublick (playing himself) introduces the show then slides into telling us about something eerie that happened to a technician. That reminds him of a bookshop in his own town, and before long we're inside yet another story, this one a melancholy fairy tale being read by a girl (Emma Meltzer) who's all too real. There are other voices too, but I'd hate to ruin the surprise. I wouldn't want to spoil the sense of the floor shifting underfoot.
Playwright Jerry Lieblich nests his spooky narratives like Russian dolls, deftly enfolding us in the show's origami structure till we're sure the dead are all around us. He and director Stefanie Abel Horowitz make the evening sensually rich—their clever production demonstrates that adding light to a room doesn't necessarily make it less frightening. You do feel that without the talented Kublick as our deft narrator we might get lost; but as it is, we're held in the hands of a master. Kublick's great, which makes the show great. And this is why we go to thrillers: to feel competent hands giving our fearful hearts just…a tiny…squeeze.—Helen Shaw
Cloud City (Off-Off Broadway). By Jerry Lieblich. Directed by Stefanie Abel Horowitz. With Dan Kublick, Emma Meltzer, Jiehae Park. Running time: 1hr 20mins. No intermission.