THE FAMILY CROW: A MURDER MYSTERY created and performed by Adam Francis Proulx (The Pucking Fuppet Co., presented by Eldritch Theatre). Runs at the Red Sandcastle Theatre (922 Queen East) until October 23. $15-$35. eldritchtheatre.ca. Rating: NNNN
While film and TV offer up plenty of creepy fare during October, there’s usually not much spooky theatre to get you in that Halloween spirit.
Except, that is, at Eldritch Theatre, the resident company of the intimate 50-seat storefront Red Sandcastle Theatre. Later this month, they’re remounting the gruesomely good Doc Wuthergloom’s Dollhouse Of Deadly Sins. But until then you can flock to Adam Francis Proulx’s delightfully atmospheric The Family Crow.
Proulx and his Pucking Fuppet Co. (try saying that a couple of times) have concocted a low-tech yet effective solo show that is full of groan-worthy puns, genuine stage magic and a fun whodunnit to solve.
Our protagonist is one Horatio P. Corvus, a wily “sorter outer of murders” who flies in to investigate the untimely death of one Russell Crow – the “murdered member of the murder.” The deceased’s family members – I’ll let you discover their punny names yourself – all get their feathers ruffled by being interrogated. Each one seems to have a motive… until, that is, they become the next victim.
While it’s a bit disappointing that Proulx doesn’t offer up more puppets, the one he’s created for Horatio is marvellous: ragged and slightly ravaged, with an old-fashioned monocle and wings that, in the play’s big climax (thanks to one audience member’s contribution) flap excitedly.
Proulx, decked out in an all-black ensemble, complete with black feathers around his neck (costumes are by Jessica Smith), gives each character a distinct voice, and director Byron Laviolette ensures we get a good sense of space and geography in the minimally furnished set (by Kathleen Black). There’s a scene where Horatio is talking to the entire family that is a bravura comic set piece. If I have one criticism about the production, it’s that there’s too much black; a couple of contrasting colours in the background might provide more visual interest.
Still, let’s hope The Family Crow means the multitalented Proulx, who travels around the world with his work, migrates back here more often. That would be something to crow about.