Sherry (Jessica Saxvik), the ninth victim of serial killer The Marrying Man (Robert Montgomery), attempts to distract her assailant with a series of stories that sample numerous backgrounds: sci-fi, film noir, fantasy, romantic comedies, and family dramas. Scheherazade of “1,001 Nights” is updated and immersed into an American pop-culture soup, with compelling results.
Gregory Peters’ story-within-a-story structure consistently charms; each sequence is explored just enough to satisfy before the thread reveals another narrative. Some tales are stronger than others; a screwball story about the botched murder of a bookie turned loud-mouthed comedian was an audience favorite. Rachael Miller’s O’Henryesque murder confession is heartfelt and evocative; Peters’ writing really shines here. The ensemble is fluid and adventurous; half of the fun of the show is the infectious enthusiasm and energy the performers bring to the text.
Director Jack Dugan Carpenter masters the swift pacing necessary to keep the stories interesting; his utilitarian staging exploits Lauren Angelopoulos’ grimy, functional set to its fullest. Each story is successfully suggested, not recreated. It’s an evening dedicated to an ancient tradition with a postmodern twist. (Lisa Buscani)
At Red Tape Theatre, 621 West Belmont, (800)838-3006. Through April 13.