Mitchell Bisschop had a hit with his solo performance of Pit of Goblins in this year’s Hollywood Fringe Festival. Pit of Goblins has crawled out of that goblin-esque pit for a short run at The Complex’s Ruby Theatre. The show is not a rollicking comedy, nor is it quite a blood and guts horror scare. It is a thought provoking, brow-wrinkling conundrum that had me leaving the theatre and walking a block to the car with my one-and-only in utter silence. “So how do I write about this?” I queried. “Your job,” she said. And so it is.
Start with plot. A serial killer, Wayne (Bisschop), has been plying his trade in a small New Mexico town for some time now. He is a straight arrow family man with a wife, two kids and a job. He is pleasant and congenial as he talks about his métier to a bemused audience. Conveniently, for the sake of stagecraft, he bundles up the bodies ever so neatly in muslin cloth and ropes. No blood. No flopping limbs. The guy is a pro. There is a pit out in the country where he stashes bodies. Problem is goblins have occupied the pit, and they are mean son-of-a-guns that demand the bodies so as to sate their wicked appetites. Over time they demand more and more, and if Wayne resists, they zap him with excruciating pain.
With people steadily disappearing, the local community pressures the sheriff (Bisschop) to do something. But he is an inept sort whose only ambition is to get up stage and sing a song in a local festival. It doesn’t help that a local radio shock-jock of the Alex Jones ilk (Bisschop) broadcasts odious conspiracy venom. These two bumwads deliver most of the questionable comedy. Enough for snickers, but not guffaws.
The best part of the show is the music, which serves the dark comedy very well. At the top of the show, there is a terrific Johnny Cash song that I am pretty sure I have never heard. It’s a grim song about an unwanted guy born with no name. I spent some time trying to track it down, but Johnny recorded hundreds of songs and I ran out of time. I don’t believe I had heard the 1960 song, “I Fought the Law and the Law Won,” by The Crickets, for very long time. I remembered the lyrics and sung along soto voce. And Tennessee Ernie Ford’s huge hit from 1955, “Sixteen Tons,” proved to have a much darker bravado than I, as a little guy, realized at the time.
“If you see me comin’, better step aside
A lotta men didn’t, a lotta men died.”
The show is enlivened with a copious amount of projections by video directors Montana Bertoletti and Mr. Bisschop, with animation and artwork by David Finch, and video editing by Mr. Bisschop. The “Killers Montage” is edited by Greg Reitman. Additional creative contributions are rendered by Dan De Lorenzo. Monica Martin, Allex Tarr, Mr. Bisschop, and Marjorie Knight built the set. The stage is managed by Nick Foran, with the help of stage crew, Aiden de Jong. I don’t know what “Chevy Van” Actors mean, but they are Tara Ericson and Mr. De Lorenzo.
Pit of Goblins has only three more performances—Friday, October 18, Saturday, October 19, and Sunday, October 20—at The Ruby Stage at The Complex Hollywood, 6476 Santa Monica Boulevard in Hollywood. See while you can,