The Harrowing of Brimstone McReedy

Currently playing at the Red Sandcastle Theatre, until November 13th, here in Toronto is a wonderfully spooky and entertaining tale featuring a virtuoso solo performance by Eric Woolfe. Cribbed from Canadian history and a moderate dose of Lovecraft, Woolfe presents his show with a use of puppets, card tricks, and close-up prestidigitation, all to great effect.

From the moment you cross over the threshold of the Red Sandcastle Theatre, a converted storefront on the east end of Queen Street, you are transported back to the late 19th century. Woolfe, and the show’s producer Adrianna Prosser are in character from the off. Woolfe, as McReedy engages in cons and parlour games, captivating the audience and setting them to their ease.

As the show begins, his persona becomes more locked in, and he brings to life a tale of Klondike gold, the devil, love and con artists. Utilising puppets to expand the cast of his story, Woolfe is front and centre the entire performance and brings a necessary emotional depth to what could have simply played as a tragic horror story.

Interweaving with history, Woolfe, as McReedy takes us along the Chilkroot Trail, learns cons, falls in love, and goes up against one of the Old Ones, itself. All of this is combined with some fantastic card tricks, playful jibes at the audience, and by tale’s end, a heartbreaking climax which Woolfe lends great emotion to, allowing the audience to believe in the tale, and the hope (be it blessing or curse) that keeps McReedy trying.

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The stunning card work is front and centre, and the post-show performance is even more up close, and equally gob-smacking, delighting the audience even as McReedy attempts to convince everyone to sell their souls.

The intimate ,converted storefront, lends a perfect atmosphere for the show, making it close, enjoyable, and a communal experience as gasps of ‘no way’ and ‘how did he do that’ interrupt the story on a regular basis to the delight and applause of the audience.

Woolfe is completely at home not only in front of the audience, and their critical eyes, but also with the material. There is no break or intermission in the show, and the man doesn’t stop once, not once, until after the show and post-performance comes to a conclusion, easily encompassing a two and half hour run.

In the city of Toronto, where there is so much to see and do, it is occasionally tough to decide what to do, where to spend an evening, or if it is worth your time. I can categorically throw my support behind this show. Woolfe is fantastic, he brings each of his characters to life, and the puppets themselves are gorgeously crafted, each with their own personality, becoming increasingly scarred and horrific as they draw closer to the show’s climax.

If you are looking for something to do, I can’t recommend this one enough! Check it out and get your tickets here!

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