THE BABYSITTER by Eric Woolfe, directed by Michael Waller (Theatre Direct Canada/Eldritch). At Factory Studio (125 Bathurst). To November 12. Pwyc-$20. 416-504-9971. See Continuing, page 133. Rating: NNNN Rating: NNNN
Without pulling any punches -- or strings - playwright/puppeteer Eric Woolfe 's latest, The Babysitter , slices comically through Hollywood's popular teen slasher films and urban legends like Kentucky Fried Rat and the vengeful, mangled neighbourhood kid hiding in the bushes outside your house.
Though aimed at a teen audience, The Babysitter is a wonderfully broad laugh- and screamfest for anyone who's had enough, or maybe not enough, of Halloween, Prom Night and Friday The 13th.
Told from the viewpoint of the madhouse-incarcerated title character, the narrative is filled with tags from horror films, echoes of fairy tales (Little Red Riding Hood drives much of the action) and ominously ringing telephones.
Woolfe's point, that the young female victim ends up the hero of these stories, is almost a side note to the play's entertainment value.
Using dozens of puppets that include finger dolls, shadow figures and a larger-than-lifesize Kane Pomeranski (the fearsome villain, a hook-handed slasher shoved into an oven as an infant by a stoned sitter), the piece is delightfully bloody, with all the faux gore you could ever crave.
Audrey Dwyer makes a nicely ditzy babysitter, slowly realizing the horrors around her and greeting them with delightfully over-the-top shrieks, while Christine Brubaker as a kinky femme fatale nurse and Woolfe as a psychobabbling shrink fill out the human cast under Michael Waller 's direction.
The latter two and Mike Petersen also manipulate the myriad puppets Woolfe has designed, as clever as Joanne Dente 's nightmarish set and costume designs, Geoff Bouckley 's eerie lighting and Jay Turvey and Paul Sportelli 's spooky sound design.
If there's a problem, it's that Woolfe has shoved too much good material into the bloody mix.
Terrifying stories follow one another in dizzying fashion; a tightened version of the script would be just as scary and probably more fun.