The Harrowing Of Brimstone McReedy
If you’re after some spooky fun this Halloween season, Eric Woolfe’s magic-infused puppet show about a Klondike Gold Rush-era con man is a sure bet.
Working from behind a vintage barkeep set-up, Woolfe switches between performing increasingly complex sleight-of-hand tricks as the aspiring huckster Brimstone McReedy, and operating a cast of small, beautifully styled, doll-like table-top puppets.
In the macabre tale, McReedy makes a Faustian deal with the Devil in exchange for three wishes, which he uses to set himself up as a card shark in the Yukon boomtown of Dawson City. Woolfe’s illusions involving coins and cards start off simple but become more intricate and impressive as the story unfolds, eventually drawing gasps from the audience. A cleverly disguised overhead camera projects his table-top wheeling and dealing onto a mirror behind the bar, allowing the audience to follow his more complex tricks, in which the cards themselves become an integral part of the story.
Woolfe gives a strong performance in the vein of the 19th-century Irish carnival barker, and his puppetry skills give his collection of dolls a life of their own. Along with plenty of audience participation, the mix of history, horror, magic and miniatures is well integrated into a total experience, culminating in a spine-tingling conclusion.