Grand Guignolers de Paris


LA WEEKLY, MAY 29, 2007 ANDRÉ DE LORDE’S GRAND GUIGNOL DE PARIS In its day (1897–1962) the Grand Guignol de Paris was a precursor of modern horror films, claiming to present terrors so intense that spectators vomited or fainted, with a house doctor present to tend the stricken. Director/producers Debbie McMahon and Amanda Haney are attempting to revive the blood-spattered Guignol tradition. The show begins with an absinthe demonstration, conducted in French by Tina Van Berckelaer, followed by a couple of mildly gory puppet plays by les petits guignolers, and two authentic one-acts from the heyday of Guignol. Maurice Level’s The Final Kiss concerns a man (Gary Karp) whose fiancée (Haney) has disfigured him horribly by throwing sulfuric acid in his face, and the terrible revenge he exacts. A Crime in a Madhouse, by André de Lordes (once known as “The Prince of Terror”) and Alfred Binet, concerns a mental patient, Louise (Van Berckelaer), who is menaced by grotesque fellow lunatics (Amanda Street, Amy Vorpahl, and McMahon) with mysterious injections, eye-gougings and a bit of face-frying. Nowadays the over-the-top mayhem seems more funny than frightening, but the production offers an intriguing glimpse of a vanished legendary theater. MOTH, 4359 Melrose Ave., L.A.; Fri.-Sat., 9 p.m.; Sun., 7 p.m.; thru June 9. (323) 860-3203. (Neal Weaver)


THE TOLUCAN TIMES May 30,2007 Mélange of Madness in Night of Grand Guignol by Mary Mallory LOS ANGELES – A faithful rendition of the French theatrical tradition of Grand Guignol, in which horror and comedy are employed to terrorize audiences, the Grand Guignolers de Paris present an entertaining, exotic evening of blood curdling thrills and chills in their new show. Evoking a 1920s bohemian flair in its use of American and hot French jazz to set the mood, the show employs sophisticated, elegant Pierrot costumes for its ushers and assistants. The most delightful segments of the evening contain les petit guignolers, stylish miniature puppets who bring a touch of whimsy in their comedic parody of horror, highlighted by outstanding voice work, timing, and sight gags. One of the most touching aspects of the evening is emcee Debbie McMahon, exhibiting vulnerability and charm as Betty Boop meets Edith Piaf. While the show is an accurate rendering of Grand Guignol, it can’t make up its mind if it’s melodrama or a parody of it. Its horror elements often veer to the gratuitous in its gruesome exploitation of violence, which is then subverted by scene-chewing antics. Not for the squeamish or faint of heart, the Grand Guignolers de Paris present a titillating thrill ride through the decadent, disturbing world of madness known as Grand Guignol.