Dark of the Moon

Dark of the Moon, the strange and thought-provoking play by Howard Richardson, is at times a laugh riot and in the next moment seat-squirmingly uncomfortable. Based on the folk tune “Ballad of Barbara Allen,” it depicts caricatures of Smoky Mountain hillbillies and their interactions with the supernatural.

The play follows a Witch Boy, eerily depicted by a Quasimodo-like Andy Hafer, who wants to be human. He falls in love with the pretty but fickle Barbara Allen (Lara Tenckhoff) and makes a pact with Conjur Woman (played with finesse and relish by Judy Clemens). He must induce the girl to marry him and be faithful for a year. He appears to succeed, but on the night before the year is up, the girl’s parents drag her to the church revival to save her soul by forcing her to copulate with her old beau, in the church, in front of the whole congregation! I was shocked to see this scene depicted so casually and accepted by the audience so calmly.

Despite its disturbing themes (which reminded me of the old Violent Femmes song, "Country Death Song"), the show has some shining stars. Jeff Dickenson and Judy Clemens as Conjur Man and Woman gave fantastic performances using excellent physicality, impeccable vocalization, and subtle nuance, creating a stark contrast to the simpleminded human characters, and Richard Lauson’s direction was consistently true to his "Brothers Grimm" vision. The full crowd opening night was vocal in its support.