Review: ‘Shockheaded Peter’ delivers darkly twisted fun

Top: Sarah Shippobotham; from left: Leviticus Brown, Shawn Saunders, Emily Nash and Brenda Hattingh. Photo: Sackerson theater

SOUTH SALT LAKE, Utah, Oct. 17 (Gephardt Daily) — Naughty children will want to stay home.

“Shockheaded Peter,” a darkly mirthful cabaret in production now by the Sackerson theater company, is geared for adults with a twisted sense of humor. The musical is based on an 1845 German book by Heinrich Hoffmann, and consists of tragi-comic vignettes depicting horrible and unlikely ways that children meet untimely ends.

The musical, perfect for a Halloween audience, plays at 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays through Nov. 4 in an open run (by demand). The Sackerson theatre production is at the Art House, at 211 W. 2100 South, South Salt Lake.

For the mood, think “Edward Scissorhands” or “Sweeney Todd.”

The stories are depicted mostly in pantomime, but narrated by a gleefully off-kilter emcee (Sarah Shippobotham) or a cynical singer (Ashley Wilkinson). The nearly silent players — made up to have splotchy white skin and stained teeth — are Emily Nash, Shawn Francis Saunders, Leviticus Brown, and Brenda Hattingh.

The players dance clumsily but with abandon, and draw out actions intended to make the audience uncomfortable. All five actors are totally committed to their absurd roles. They hold nothing back.

The lighting is dark and moody, with colors ruled by the show’s emotional content. Costumes are creepy and edgy, with the four players dressed in what looks like dirt-flecked, worn-out underwear.

This is like no other show you’ll see this Halloween season, or possibly any other time of the year. Co-directors Alex Ungerman and Dave Mortensen are to be commended.

Uncomfortable and intrigued yet? This production of “Shockheaded Peter” is like a haunted house and a roller coaster put together, with unsettling and funny content, and sudden highs and lows. There are even thought-provoking lines sprinkled in with nonsense.

Check it out while you can. If you don’t, you are no longer allowed to complain that everyone in Utah does the same kind of shows.

To buy tickets, visit the Sackerson website. To read audience reactions, visit the company’s Facebook page.



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here