Gorey Stories: ghoulish humor comes to campus



by Kendall Smith

As Halloween approaches, some UK students are setting the stage for a play punctuated by death, Victorian sets and black humor.

This October, the UK Department of Theatre will perform Gorey Stories, an adaptation of stories by Edward Gorey written by UK alum Stephen Currens.

Although the play originated at UK in the 1970s and had a brief stint on Broadway, describing what it is about is a bit of a challenge.

“Every story is narrated,” said Natalie Burns, stage manager for the show. “There are really bizarre, interesting deaths. It’s definitely a humorous, dark comedy.”

“It’s different,” added Abby Sheridan, an actress in the play. “It’s not a musical, but there’s music in it.”

Despite the name of the show, those involved say it is appropriate for people of all ages.

“I’d say it’s family friendly,” Burns said. “Kids may not understand it, but it is definitely family friendly. It’s a very stylized show. It’s not violent. There are no blood or guts.”

The play takes place in the early 1900s, and the characters do not speak with an American accent.

“The entire play is in a British accent,” Sheridan said. “Some parts are in a Russian accent, but it is mostly British.”

“The audience can expect to enter a different world or timeframe,” Burns said. “They can expect a lot of spectacles with the set pieces, costumes and make-up.”

Director Russell Henderson saw the original play when he was a student at UK, and his experience with the original work has been beneficial for this production.

“You have an idea of what the playwright intended,” Henderson said. “It’s a different kind of theater piece. It is one author’s distinct worldview and ghoulish sense of humor. It’s kind of horrifying fun.”

Henderson is excited to direct the play decades after its original premiere at UK.

“There’s an element of nostalgia there, but the other kick has been to give the students the experience of Edward Gorey’s work,” Henderson said.

Those working on the play consider it a great opportunity to work with someone who was part of the original.

“I am just so honored to be a part of this play,” Sheridan said. “It shows what people at UK are capable of. We wrote a play that made it to Broadway.”

Gorey Stories begins Oct. 7 at 7:30 p.m. in the Guignol Theatre. Other showings are Oct. 8-9 at 7:30 p.m., Oct. 14-16 at 7:30 p.m. and Oct. 17 at 2 p.m.