By Wesley James
Corn Productions’ daring and twisted My Girlfriend is the Devil portrays a surreal sitcom about a very amateur improv troupe, and it is delightful. Opening with a fake-out audience address and closing on a TV report coming from inside the sitcom, the play sets itself up to tear down some almost Inception-deep layers of convention.
The play takes horror back to the basics: five friends deal with possession and murder under supernatural circumstances, eventually facing off with the eponymous devil. Issues can arise when attempting to stage the supernatural, and this play counteracts that by providing several fourth walls between us and the more fantastical elements. These walls are never directly shattered; instead they merge and degenerate until the horror has permeated every aspect of the spectacle – it’s the knowledge that the established rules aren’t safe that makes the danger seem the most real.
Derik Iversion, the playwright, and director Kallie Noelle Rolison each need to be admired for their exquisite attention to absences; some of the most gripping points are the actors pausing for a laugh track that doesn’t come, or an expected entrance that doesn’t get made. The cast excels at walking a rigorous line between the comic, hapless scary movie tropes we expect and the grasping, desperate victims they become.
Easily the most impressive aspect of this show is the attention to technical detail. Almost as if an intentional juxtaposition to the uncertain layers of convention, the stage combat, choreography, and sound design are breathtakingly precise. Everything looks, sounds and synchronizes so perfectly that it’s hard to believe that what you’re seeing isn’t real.
Though I was initially hesitant about the kitsch title, My Girlfriend is the Devil left me entertained, chilled, and extremely impressed.
My Girlfriend is the Devil runs at The Cornservatory through July 11th. More information: www.cornservatory.org