Just in time for Halloween, this year’s Pumpkin Pie Show delivers horror stories culled from that funhouse of the bizarre and macabre: the daily news.
Created by writer-performer Clay McLeod Chapman, the revue of solo pieces, Amber Alert, stages five fables spun from real-life events. The highlights: a hormonal high school wrestler acquires a competitive advantage by spreading herpes to unsuspecting foes; a Texas tween becomes infatuated with outer space and Judaism (equally alien to his backwoods milieu) when he discovers fragments from the diary of Israel’s only astronaut; and a repentant sexual predator explains his decision to proceed from chemical castration to the real thing (self-inflicted).
The boisterous three-member company takes turns performing the monologues into a microphone—chipping in secondary characters from the sidelines, laughing appreciatively at one another’s antics. The endearingly lo-fi setup—empty stage, lone mic, sound operator supplying music—leaves us space to imagine the details of Chapman’s outlandish modern myths.
Some of the stories overstay their welcome, clotted by meticulous description more suited to prose fiction than performance. And some of the humor is pretty fratty: Chapman delights in dropping the C-bomb, and lovingly describes smeared fluids and bodily dysfunctions. But the scrappy outfit performs with verve, reminding us that reality is freakier than fiction.