“Dark Ride” To Feature Unique Special Effects

If you are seeking mystery, drama, a B movie, or creative special effects, you can find them all entwined in the cryptic carnival that is Dark Ride.

This drama from cutting-edge playwright Len Jenkin is the newest production from the Saint Louis University Studio Theatre. Six performances are scheduled for May 3 through May 6.

Director Cristy Markham states, “It is a dark carnival ride. It is Len Jenkin’s homage to two movie types. The first type is the film noir, such as movies from Mickey Spillane. The second movie type is the B movie style. It’s got that outer space, Invasion of the Body Snatchers idea with a decided carnival theme.”

The main plot of Dark Ride follows the story of a thief, beginning with a jewel heist. The stories of 10 characters are gradually interwoven into this central story, creating a storyline that spirals toward the final entrapment of the thief.

John Broker, who plays the part of a carnival “grinder” named Deep Sea Ed, says, “The play is an extreme example of how everything in this world is connected. Most people are not aware of the connections within their lives, and that can seriously affect them in bad ways.”

Markham defines Jenkin’s style as “contemporary American avant-garde.” His works cover everything from Chekhov adaptations to more sensational dramas.

One of the most exciting and experimental aspects of this production is its use of special effects. Computers will be used for data projection, using computer animation effects. Slide projectors will display still images on the set. A sequence of live video will be fed to the set. And, to top it off, ordinary lighting equipment will be creatively used to paint images and textures on the set and the actors.

Also, the play uses the studio space to its advantage, breaking the traditional conventions of the theater. Acting spaces are not limited to the stage; they are spread throughout the audience.

“The audience members will be one foot away from the actors,” says director Markham.

Dark Ride is also a primarily student-produced play. The innovations, set design, costuming, and effects are all the result of great effort on the parts of the cast and crew. Not only are all of the actors students at SLU, they include all class levels, freshman through senior.

Markham commented, “It is more pleasing than any production in a number of years. These students are excited and are amazingly creative. In our meetings, everyone is over-full with creative ideas. It has not been an easy play, but everyone has risen to the challenge of solving the puzzle.”

The play is very intensely compact, lasting less than two hours. All four nights, May 3 through 6, the play will start at 8 p.m. On the 5 and 6, a special 11 p.m. showing will be held. Due to the fact that the entire theater is the stage, seating is limited. No standing room tickets will be available. The number for ticket purchase and information is 977-3327.