New Theater Group Wants to Get Weird With You

12 Peers Productions brings Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa’s horror-kitsch to Lawrenceville.

There are people in the world who would prefer Christmas to be a year-round event. They leave Santa Claus paraphernalia in their homes at all times, they decorated their freshman-year dorms with strings of blinking lights and they’re liable to bust out renditions of “White Christmas” (or, somewhat more tolerably, Elvis’ “Blue Christmas”) in mid-summer. Aside from the fact that they’re helping spread the intolerable Christmas Creep further and further into the autumn, who can blame them? They love their holiday, and why not celebrate year-round?

I’m exactly like that, but with Halloween. I need something creepy, campy and macabre around at absolutely all times. I’m sitting in my office as I type this, and just within sight, there’s a small jack-o-lantern votive holder, a series of cryptozoology action figures (Loch Ness Monster, Jersey Devil, Bigfoot, Chupacabra and Mothman,) a signed sketch of Doug Bradley of the Hellraiser films, a postcard of a West Virginia penitentiary electric chair … the list goes on. What’s the farthest you’ve driven in a day to attend a haunted house? Maybe an hour? I’ve done a seven-hour round trip.

Point is, I like creepy stuff. All year long.

So it brings me great pleasure that brand-new theater group 12 Peers Productions chose Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa's The Weird as their inaugural production. Aguirre-Sacasa is a playwright and comic book writer, known for his over-the-top, imaginative stories, always featuring a bit of horror kitsch; one of his early plays was called Say You Love Satan, a romantic comedy revision of The Omen. Somehow, penning issues of Fantastic Four and psuedo-spooky off-Broadway hits has led to gigs writing for “Big Love” and “Glee.”

The Weird returns Aguirre-Sacasa to his wheelhouse, though. The show is a collection of short plays in the style of horror anthologies like “Tales From the Crypt” or Creepshow; these vignettes are more humor than terror, however. A scientist and his secretary explore their feelings across the specimen jars in “Insect Love”; an undergrad goes to find his lover deep in the bayou in “Swamp Gothic”; a disgruntled housewife gets an assist from the undead in “Morning Becomes Olestra.”

The skits are funny, original and fast-paced. All contain a dose of sheer ridiculousness, a send-up of horror convention and a surprising moment or two of genuine emotion and insight. The ensemble cast, who all play multiple roles, deftly balance the extreme characterizations and absurd scenarios with genuine, heart-on-a-sleeve emotion.

The presentation, though, is a big part of the appeal. Artistic Director Vince Ventura—who also served as Director for this production—will usher you in to a dimly lit Grey Box Theater, directing you to rows of chairs lined with dollar-store headstones, encouraging you to grab a box of popcorn before you settle in. Themes from Halloween and The Shining pulse through the air before the first scene, “Bloody Mary”, commences; at its conclusion, you’ll be introduced to your host for the evening, the zombified M.T. Grave. Played uproariously by local improv all-star John Feeightner, Grave is a low-rent Beetlejuice, cackling and creeping throughout the evening to tie the stories together.

Taken on its own, The Weird is a fun, refreshing night at the theater, from a company stripped of pretension and eager to please. As the debut of 12 Peers, though, it’s yet another sign that the theater scene in Pittsburgh is getting more bold and diverse by the minute. The company instantly joins the ranks of young groups in the area worth your immediate attention and attendance, and I’m eager to see where they’re headed from here.

(3595 Butler St, Lawrenceville. Thu-Sat, 8 p.m.; Sun, 2 p.m. $15; students and seniors, $10. Info and tickets: 12peerstheater.org)

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module

Edit ModuleShow Tags

The 412

AFC Championship: What We’re Betting for a Win

AFC Championship: What We’re Betting for a Win

Rhode Island Monthly and Pittsburgh Magazine are making a friendly wager over the outcome of Sunday’s game, and we can’t wait to taste their quahogs.
See How Chess Made Le’Veon Bell a Better Running Back

See How Chess Made Le’Veon Bell a Better Running Back

Watch the video that reveals Bell’s talents that go beyond the football field.
Viral: Steelers' Most Famous Fight Song Synced to Lights

Viral: Steelers' Most Famous Fight Song Synced to Lights

See how a Leechburg man has transformed his home into the ultimate Pittsburgh Steelers shrine, but we must warn you, the song will be stuck in your head for the rest of the day.
RMU President Named to College Football Playoff Committee

RMU President Named to College Football Playoff Committee

Chris Howard will help decide which four teams will vie each year for college football’s national championship.
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Hot Reads

The Best Bars in Pittsburgh Right Now

The Best Bars in Pittsburgh Right Now

Many Pittsburgh bars have solid beer lists, well-mixed cocktails or a bartender who's handy with a shot and a story. We need more than that. What makes these bars the best?
View Pittsburgh & Its People From The 1850s Through Today

View Pittsburgh & Its People From The 1850s Through Today

#pixburgh: A Photographic Experience features images from the Sen. John Heinz History Center vault, which contains close to one million images. The show features a sampling of 400 images from the 1850s through today — including landmarks, fun, folly and floods.
In Concert: What's Next for the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra?

In Concert: What's Next for the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra?

Melia Tourangeau, CEO and president of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, looks to lead the ensemble forward after a discordant strike.
Restaurant Review: Umami in Lawrenceville

Restaurant Review: Umami in Lawrenceville

Umami sets the bar for izakaya openings in Pittsburgh. But its owners still have steps to take to keep raising the standard.
Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

On the Blogs


AFC Championship: What We’re Betting for a Win

AFC Championship: What We’re Betting for a Win

Rhode Island Monthly and Pittsburgh Magazine are making a friendly wager over the outcome of Sunday’s game, and we can’t wait to taste their quahogs.

Comments


All the foodie news that's fit to blog
Restaurant Industry Fundraiser to Aid Injured Chef

Restaurant Industry Fundraiser to Aid Injured Chef

Zach Behm was chef de cuisine at Cure in Upper Lawrenceville at the time of a July car wreck.

Comments


Not just good stuff. Great stuff.
The Best 6 Places to Get a Cup of Tea in Pittsburgh

The Best 6 Places to Get a Cup of Tea in Pittsburgh

The quiet rise of Pittsburgh's tea scene gives us a few favorite gems.

Comments


The Trendy New East Liberty Hangout ... Primanti's?

The Trendy New East Liberty Hangout ... Primanti's?

The latest outpost of the popular local chain is housed in the former Verde space in Garfield.

Comments


Mike Prisuta's Sports Section

A weekly look at the games people are playing and the people who are playing them.
Tomlin Needs to Be Tomlin Against Brady, Belichick

Tomlin Needs to Be Tomlin Against Brady, Belichick

The Steelers are going to have to attack the game to survive it, to grab it by the throat and choke it to the desired conclusion.

Comments


Style. Design. Goods. Hide your credit card.
Tantalizing Textiles for the Table

Tantalizing Textiles for the Table

Check out the chic decor from Pittsburgh-based artist and designer Janice Nelson.

Comments


The movies that are playing in Pittsburgh –– and, more importantly, whether or not they're worth your time.
Shyamalan's Split is Troubling For the Wrong Reasons

Shyamalan's Split is Troubling For the Wrong Reasons

Reviews of "Split," "20th Century Women" and "The Founder," plus local movie news and notes.

Comments


Everything you need to know about getting married in Pittsburgh today.
Pittsburgh Romance: How Their Love Survived Long-Distance

Pittsburgh Romance: How Their Love Survived Long-Distance

From coast to coast and continent to continent, these couples showed that absence really does make the heart grow fonder.

Comments


Weekly inspiration for your home from the editors of Pittsburgh Magazine
Urban Fit Co. Opening Flagship Shop in Sewickley

Urban Fit Co. Opening Flagship Shop in Sewickley

The locally owned active wear boutique is slated to open in March. Plus, get all the details on Pittsburgh’s new luxury residential real estate firm, Piatt Sotheby’s International Realty.

Comments


The hottest topics in higher education
Pittsburgh Artist’s Work to be Featured at Thiel College

Pittsburgh Artist’s Work to be Featured at Thiel College

Benedict Oddi’s collection “Scouts and Nomads” will be on display in a campus gallery.

Comments