2005_10_arts_nightmare.jpgThis year more than any we remember from recent past, theater companies are gearing up to bring you Halloween-related shows. It’s appropriate, when you think about it – actors are all about dressing up as people/things other than themselves, so they should lead the way when the rest of the world decides to masquerade. In any case, options abound citywide. Psycho Clan, for instance, has an interactive haunted house program called Nightmare going, which looks pretty freaky just from the website. The 13 rooms are supposed to be “more David Lynch than John Carpenter” and it’s already selling out.

If you’re not quite so into being scared out of your wits, an alternative is the Faux-Real Theatre Company’s William Shakespeare’s Haunted Pier, which is also an interactive sort of performance, but here using the ghosts of famous characters like Macbeth, Hamlet, Caliban and Romeo and Juliet to do the scaring on a walking tour around Pier 25, which is about to close for renovation.

Another creation conceived specifically with Halloween in mind is That Way Madness Lies, a production from The Queens Players that looks to be an interesting mix of stories from Poe, King, Ogden, Shakespeare, Euripides and Theatre du Grand Guignol for a performance that’s supposed to be like a mixture of campfire storytelling and traditional costume theatre. We’re hoping they go heavy on the Poe.

Even more in the direction of traditional drama, but still with an emphasis on the dark side, is Tam Lin, based on an old Scottish ballad about a certain Janet, who runs away from home and falls in love with the title character, a captive of faeries, whom she proceeds to try to rescue. It definitely looks like being on the classier side of spooky, which is good for those who aren’t so into the more blood-and-guts-heavy type of thing.

A retelling of a relatively old American tale about witchcraft and fear comes courtesy of the Metropolitan Playhouse, which has The Scarecrow, Percy MacKaye’s 1908 adaptation of a Nathaniel Hawthorne story, onstage until the day before Halloween. The play is about, well, a scarecrow, but he’s actually sort of a living entity, having been created as part of a revenge plot, and he has to deal with the implications of his odd existence. It may not have originally been intended for the costumed reveler crowd, but it could well help to get you in an appropriately gloomy, susceptible-to-haunting frame of mind.

Finally, Spotlight On has had a Halloween Festival going on (it ends Nov. 3); many of the shows aren’t really related to the day or its themes so much, though Hector Lugo (“the Puerto Rican Dame Edna”) is starring/hosting as La Contessa in a variety show this Friday that will no doubt be a gay old time with costumes and freaky guests and such. The other offerings from emerging performance artists in the festival schedule are worth a look too; they’ll be dressed up, even if not technically with Halloween in mind, so we figure that’s close enough.

Details after the jump...

Details: Nightmare is at the Clemente Soto Velez Center, 107 Suffolk St. It starts today and runs through next Mon. (10/31) with lots of late-night showings; see Smarttix.com for a full schedule and tickets.
William Shakespeare’s Haunted Pier is at Pier 25 Sat. & Sun. between 2 and 8pm, and Mon. from 4-8pm. Tickets are $5, cash only, at the door.
That Way Madness Lies is at both La Nacional (239 W. 14) and The Creek Theatre (10-93 Jackson Ave., LIC). See The Queens Players website for exact schedule and tickets.
Tam Lin’s remaining shows are Thurs.-Sat. 8pm, Sun. 3pm. It’s at Theatre Five, 311 W. 43 (5th Floor), and you can get tickets at Theatermania.
The Scarecrow is at the Metropolitan Playhouse, 220 E. 4th, Thurs.-Sat. 8pm, Sun. 2pm. Call 212-995-5302 or email connect (at) metropolitanplayhouse.org for ticket reservations.
Shows in Spotlight On’s Halloween festival are at The Monster, 80 Grove St. Full schedule and tickets are at Theatermania.

Photo from Tam Lin by Joe Marzullo.