The storefront was dark.
I double-checked the address on Queen Street East then gave a few knocks.
Through the glass door, I saw that most of the store inside was hidden behind a curtain. Good, I thought, tenuously. Maybe I had made it to the right place then. I was here for Doc Wuthergloom’s Haunted Medicine Show.
A figure in a mask slipped from a flap in the curtain, and gave the lock a twist. Now, what was the password again?
Luckily, the writing on my palm hadn’t smeared. I’d tell you what was there, were I not afraid now that Doc Wuthergloom would curse my soul for eternity.
Beyond the curtain, a few chairs face a set-up that included a steamer trunk, and beaten-up suitcases.
Before long, a man in a top hat came in: Doc Wuthergloom. His skin was about as white as birch bark. And then, out of nowhere – maybe out of his suit – he pulled out a little ukulele and strummed a tune.
The song is a pre-pitch to the giant pitch, which is – I’m sure Doc Wuthergloom won’t mind this phrase – the blood and guts of the doctor’s imploring show that we buy his Home Exorcism Almanac.
As the doctor – his training includes an apprenticeship in a backstreet apocrathy, where as a teenager, he was routinely locked-up in a potato cellar with goblin artifacts – makes clear: an evil spirit haunts him. And one probably haunts you, too.
As proof, Doc Wuthergloom relies on demonstrations. Amongst them, a few include volunteers from the audience. No fewer than two of them are called-up to sit in the “Chair Of Doom” as they volunteer.
Other props include a purple cow (a little toy), a racecar (also a toy), five razor blades (real, and pulled out from the doc’s stomach on dental floss), and the pickled left hand of a man that was hung (the real thing, I can only assume).
Though the volunteers offer a humorous addition, the show rests on the thick shoulders of Doc Wuthergloom. Or, more accurately: his voice that can do Olympian jumps from low and croaky to a sotto; and a mastery of the language of mysticism that he practices.
And beyond just a mastery of his craft, Doc Wuthergloom has, what I think is, a great way with words. It’s a stew of old terms like “tinsmith,” lesser heard adjectives like “apoplectic” nouns, like “effluvia,” colourful repeated phrases like “tuggin’ your tender,” and words that I love that I’m pretty sure, were just made-up like “marvability.”
The stuff I heard the audience imitating to one another for laughs outside the store though, after the show, were those of Doc Wuthergloom’s puppets. Amongst them, a memorable one named Louise.
This is a show that I’d strongly recommend! In fact, I might even go again before the show close on November 6th.
– Doc Wuthertgloom’s Haunted Medicine Show is playing at a secret venue (location revealed on ticket confirmation).
– Show runs Tuesday through Saturday at 8:00 pm, with a Sunday matinee at 2:00 pm until November 6th
– Tickets cost $20. For purchasing info, please see EldritchTheatre.ca