By Samuel J. Cox
Written, directed and produced by Levon J Polinelli, this 100-minute musical is never boring, living up to the horror, violence and adult themes of which it warns. Bereft of opening night jitters, the show centres on the titular character, a young Christian priest in Huntersville. A nervous, unlikely hero, he both inspires the struggling villagers, and battles with his love for the Mayor’s betrothed daughter Brooke Gainsborough (Siobhan Dow-Hall). When he falls foul to a marauding werewolf, he becomes the helpless perpetrator of a killing spree that leaves a trail of corpses.
In this musical of few laughs, burlesque and cabaret star Magnus Danger Magnus shines. Playing the hunter and explorer George Waggner, his tongue-in-cheek performance offers much-needed comic relief. A vapid, boastful windbag and vigorous storyteller, he is determined to kill the wretched monster ‘with guns and stout, God-fearing men.’ He incites the citizens of Huntersville into an angry mob, baying for blood. The second Act is the stronger of the two, because he has the lion’s share of the stage time.
With blood smears and claw marks on the floor, corrugated iron sheets hanging ominously from the roof, tombstones lining the winding path into the theatre and convincing special effects make up, the play has an amazing set and high production value. It also makes clever use of the Blue Room’s small space and has composer Ash Gibson Greig curating a spooky vibe.
You will hold your breath during Hank’s desperate, frantic search for a cure before he kills again at the next fool moon, and gasp in horror during the violent, daring climax which finally answers the sinister question: Who bit Hank?
Let the butchery begin.
‘Werewolf Priest! The Lamentable Ballad of Father Hank Grimby’ runs until June 7.