A young couple driving on a deserted highway, scaring each other to death. A dentist growing unnaturally obsessed with his client. A boyfriend refusing to reveal his true face. A dead best friend who won’t stay dead… What makes you scared?
In the winter of 2005, the playwrights Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, Clay McLeod Chapman, Eric Sanders, and Justin Swain came together over dinner in Brooklyn, where they discussed the overwhelming importance and influence of horror and the supernatural in theatre. Vowing to create a show that displayed their divergent styles and approaches, they teamed up with four extraordinary directors to present their uniquely terrifying visions.
Dread Awakening. A collection of four new horror plays by some of theatre’s most exciting up-and-coming playwrights.
April 6-23, 2006
The 45th Street Theatre
Presented by The Thursday Problem, Michelle Bossy, Brian Flanagan, and Alana Karpoff
Broadway.com opening night photos.
“Through a series of one act plays, Dread Awakening manipulates the sensations of the audience, tricking us into laughing while we are slowly and unwittingly being pulled closer to the truly terrifying.”
- Joyce Hauser, Arts & Leisure News Service
“‘Bloody Mary’ is written with devilish glee by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa. Ben makes the case to his blond, ditsy girlfriend that getting scared is better than sex. And during the best moments of this show, he is proved absolutely right… ‘Pearls,’ by Clay McLeod Chapman, is an assured bit of storytelling, one in which the surprises slowly and subtly sink in. It stars Robert Funaro, last seen dangling from a noose in this season’s first episode of ‘The Sopranos.’ Now very much alive, he delivers Mr. Chapman’s muscular descriptions of dentistry with a swooning passion. It’s a loopy portrayal that brings to mind the cracked intensity and delusions of Robert De Niro in ’Taxi Driver.’”
- Jason Zinoman, The New York Times
“Eric Sanders’ nerve-jarring ’Sleep Mask’ keeps us on tenterhooks with a hard-to-predict plot line and quicksilver shifts of mood and tempo.”
- Deidre McFadyen, Off Off Online
“The final play, ‘Sleep Mask,’ gets us back in the genre by way of one of its staples: the nightmare. Annie (Jenny Gammello) is in bed asleep. As she wakes up in the middle of the night, James (Joe Plummer) is wide awake: he says he can’t sleep. She’s had a scary dream. He’s worried about his crow’s feet. Is Annie actually awake, or is she still in her dream? Or was she in a dream at all? Two solid performances and nicely manipulative direction keep us interested…”
- Les Gutman, CurtainUp
“Justin Swain’s ’Treesfall’ is satisfyingly disturbing. It’s clear that there’s more going on than meets the eye, and to his credit Swain provides a not-completely predictable ending that I certainly won’t disclose here.”
- Martin Denton, nytheatre.com
“All of the pieces moved along at quite a speedy pace, showcasing four completely different (and frightening) horror scenarios. The audience enthusiastically ate up all four unhappy endings. If you’re a fan of horror, or interested in some fun scares, which don’t get presented on stage very often, this could be the show for you.”
- Robert Diamond, Broadway World
“Robert Funaro is currently giving a chilling performance as a highly disturbed, sexually abusive dentist in Clay McLeod Chapman’s ‘pearls.’”
“Eric Sanders’s Sleep Mask does not refer to the small cloth variety that one wears over the eyes on an overnight flight. Instead, James (Joe Plummer) sports a frightening, green-and-black, leather-and-latex, full-face mask that he believes will exfoliate his skin, relax his mind, and even strip away odd wrinkles and crow’s feet…. it’s an effective satire of America’s obsession with youth and cosmetic quick fixes.”
- Adam Klasfeld, Theatermania
“An evening of horror, ‘Dread’ spans the gamut of the genre…. Combined these four short plays arouse a healthy fear-factor in theatergoers and it’s not difficult to imagine the evening of ‘Dread Awakening’ taking to stages throughout the country once spring and summer have again segued to fall.”
- American Theater Web