Fans of the phantasmagorical take note. Tantalus Theatre Group’s “Dreadful Penny’s Exquisite Horrors” now inhabits the attic at Bailiwick. The climb to the space, through the scene shop and very old, very narrow stairs, sets the perfect tone for a look into the darker resources of one’s soul. The attic itself makes your skin crawl a bit. Once settled in though, the performance is too rigid to really have the desired effect. That is to say that there are many components of a core-shaking horror show but the mark is missed in the way it engages the audience. Structured as a macabre variety show presided over by the title character, an ensemble of mutilated women each take a turn demonstrating their skills and each one meets an ultimate demise of body or spirit. Alexandra Herryman’s script, written with director Glen Cullen, strives to engage the audience in an uncomfortably intimate way. It wants to get murky and personal but it is presented as a play instead of an environmental event that allows the horrific acts to unfold around an unsuspecting ticket holder. There the play dies. (William Scott)
At the Bailiwick Arts Center, 1229 W. Belmont, (773)549-8080. This production is now closed.