THE STRANGE AND EERIE MEMOIRS OF BILLY WUTHERGLOOM written and performed by Eric Woolfe, originally directed by Jason Charters, with Johnny Westgate. An Eldritch Theatre production presented by Alianak Theatre in association with VideoCabaret at the Cameron House (408 Queen West). Runs to May 8, Tuesday-Friday 7:30 pm, Saturday 8 pm, matinee Sunday 2:30 pm. $15-$20, Sunday pwyc-$10, stu $10. 416-703-1725. Rating: NNNN Rating: NNNN
Is there anything scarier yet more eagerly anticipated than the first chance to have sex? You want it, you fear it.
Writer/performer Eric Woolfe shares one boy's coming-of-sexual-age stories and a few of his acquaintances' tales in The Strange And Eerie Memoirs Of Billy Wuthergloom , a delightful puppet show/musical that taps into childhood horrors and the link between puberty and supernatural possession.
Central to the piece is the psychic Hirskill Fischmascher, a schoolyard reject who turns out to be not only Billy's saviour but also his best friend. A floppy-limbed, bulging-eyed creation with clawlike, skeletal hands, the alternately weird and sad Hirskill is given to spouting incantations from H.P. Lovecraft monster fantasies and has his own problems, ones that Billy doesn't pay much attention to.
And while the show entertains with its comedy, clever found-material puppets and intentionally creepy tunes, it's also a look at companionship and how we undervalue the people who are closest to us.
Woolfe takes us through a decade or so of Billy's life, from an encounter with a succubus under his bed to his first wet dream and French kiss ("it was like chewing gum that chewed back") and his crushes on various girls at school.
His characters - concocted from bits of plungers, umbrellas and mannequins - are totally convincing, and the dialogue is both pungent and dead-on.
Just as good is the music, written by Marc Downing and here played by Johnny Westgate , who looks like he's escaped from a Grand Guignol version of a Dickens novel and sings at times in a totally appropriate falsetto.
Woolfe and Westgate play smartly off each other, not just verbally but in a duel of stringed instruments that's as funny as it is bizarre.