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

1,000 Points Earns Crosby His Own Primanti Bros. Sandwich

1,000 Points Earns Crosby His Own Primanti Bros. Sandwich

Unlike previous Penguins-inspired sandwiches, Crosby’s “The Captain” could be on the menu for years to come.
Pittsburghers Get Fewer Robocalls Than The National Average

Pittsburghers Get Fewer Robocalls Than The National Average

Next time you get a call from a telemarketer, just be thankful you don’t live in Atlanta.
Four Pittsburgh Chefs Honored on James Beard Long List

Four Pittsburgh Chefs Honored on James Beard Long List

The four are semifinalists for James Beard Foundation Awards, considered the most prestigious of the nation's culinary honors.
Is Pittsburgh About to Become the Next Detroit?

Is Pittsburgh About to Become the Next Detroit?

No offense to the motor city, but auto companies are eyeing the steel city to develop the next generation of driverless vehicles.
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Hot Reads

A History of Pittsburgh, in 50 Artifacts

A History of Pittsburgh, in 50 Artifacts

For a city only two centuries old, Pittsburgh has amassed a surprising amount of history. To assemble this collection of 50 of the region’s most fascinating historical artifacts, we hunted through museums, archives and private collections. We also looked for things many of us might pass each day without appreciating their significance.
The Origins of Isaly’s: It's Not What You Think

The Origins of Isaly’s: It's Not What You Think

Tracing the story of the chain back to its roots — which, surprisingly, are not in Pittsburgh.
In the Frame: Julie Sokolow Sees the Future

In the Frame: Julie Sokolow Sees the Future

After making films focused on Pittsburgh, Sokolow is rising through the ranks of U.S. women documentarians.
Restaurant Review: Salem's Market & Grill in the Strip District

Restaurant Review: Salem's Market & Grill in the Strip District

Salem’s offers accessible and delicious meals for Pittsburghers of all stripes.
Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

On the Blogs


1,000 Points Earns Crosby His Own Primanti Bros. Sandwich

1,000 Points Earns Crosby His Own Primanti Bros. Sandwich

Unlike previous Penguins-inspired sandwiches, Crosby’s “The Captain” could be on the menu for years to come.

Comments


All the foodie news that's fit to blog
Union Standard Will Open This Weekend

Union Standard Will Open This Weekend

The highly anticipated restaurant from Derek Stevens opens is located in the Union Trust building Downtown.

Comments


Not just good stuff. Great stuff.
Five Inexpensive But Memorable Date Spots in Pittsburgh

Five Inexpensive But Memorable Date Spots in Pittsburgh

These spots are tailored for couples who are looking for a simple, chill night out on Valentine’s Day (or any other day). If your significant other isn’t the type to be wooed by expensive wines and chocolates, this is the list for you.

Comments


Social House 7 Is Okay ... But There's This Really Weird Thing About It

Social House 7 Is Okay ... But There's This Really Weird Thing About It

While it's not among Downtown's best, Social House 7 is a fine place for a drink and a bite — but we're stuck on a bizarre element of the décor.

Comments


Mike Prisuta's Sports Section

A weekly look at the games people are playing and the people who are playing them.
Love Affair Between Pittsburgh & Keisel is a Two-Way Street

Love Affair Between Pittsburgh & Keisel is a Two-Way Street

Where else but Pittsburgh would a football player, two years removed from his playing days, be able to raise about $85,000 in one night for the staging of an event that involves the gathering of a crowd to watch a man shave?

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.
Great Wall Crumbles, Fist Fight Whiffs

Great Wall Crumbles, Fist Fight Whiffs

Reviews of "The Great Wall" and "Fist Fight," plus local movie news and notes.

Comments


Everything you need to know about getting married in Pittsburgh today.
Our Favorite Unique Centerpiece (That’s Not Flowers)

Our Favorite Unique Centerpiece (That’s Not Flowers)

This couple’s centerpiece from our Real Pittsburgh Weddings shines brighter than the traditional table bouquet.

Comments


Weekly inspiration for your home from the editors of Pittsburgh Magazine
The Candle Lab Ready To Make Its Debut in Lawrenceville

The Candle Lab Ready To Make Its Debut in Lawrenceville

The Columbus-based store, where you can customize your own candle fragrance, is expected to open in March.

Comments


The hottest topics in higher education
Get a Behind-the-Scenes Look at ‘Fences’

Get a Behind-the-Scenes Look at ‘Fences’

An art director from Warner Bros. Studios will visit La Roche College to talk about the Oscar-nominated film with ties to Pittsburgh.

Comments