The Island of Dr. Moreau: A Fever Dream Steeped in Blood

H.G. Wells' novel of animal nature perverted, brought vividly and powerfully to life by Charles Stites

Exhibitionism

The Island of Dr. Moreau: A Fever Dream Steeped in Blood

Salvage Vanguard Theater, 2803 Manor Rd., 512/474-7886
www.hydeparktheatre.org
Final performance: Sunday, Feb. 2, noon
Running time: 1 hr., 30 min.

To see Charlie Stites is to think of all those Average Guys Standing Around the Water Cooler in any number of office-set Hollywood movies. This Stites, your mind's eye informs you, is an ordinary joe in every possible way. And then he does something like this, and, whoa: fucking force of nature, dude.

The story he relates is about the forces of nature – or the forces of animal nature perverted by the more sapient and damnable nature of humanity. Stites performs H.G. Wells' The Island of Dr. Moreau, and he does it so well that it just about wounds you. This is an example of highly professional work in the midst of FronteraFest. For one thing, Stites' abridgment of Wells' tale is deft and effective, condensing the novel into what's presented in 90 minutes and still remains intelligible and smoothly flowing and as powerful as a rogue elephant. Also, the sheer memorization requires a prodigious effort, and Stites nails it. And finally: The man can act, credibly transforming himself into an array of human characters and animal grotesques, opening the floodgates of emotion as required by the story, bringing the whole ungodly nightmare to vivid, unforgettable life. Welcome, friends, to the House of Pain.

Bottom line: Maybe you don't like the books-on-tape thing? But if you do like hearing such renditions of written works – especially one as fierce and unsettling as this Wells classic – then don't miss this show. What Stites does here – live, totally off-book and wonderfully lighted – is not just better than most multiple takes cobbled together from a celebrity's script-in-hand reading in some audio studio thousands of miles away: I'm suggesting it may be better than any of them.

Related Stories

  • FronteraFest Long Fringe/Bring Your Own Venue

    Fresh reviews of several shows in this year's Bring Your Own Venue and Long Fringe categories
  • Bodies in (Public) Space

    This dance work morphs, mixes, and disorients constructs of what's typical and atypical in movement

    BY JONELLE SEITZ

  • Gidion's Knot

    Top-notch acting powers this claustrophobic confrontation between a dead boy's grieving mother and his teacher

    BY STACY ALEXANDER EVANS

  • Inappropriate Touching

    There's plenty to find amusing in this unapologetically confessional show by Rebecca Beegle

    BY STACY ALEXANDER EVANS

  • Hazards

    A catalog of terrors quotidian and cataclysmic, interspersed with odd dances and the odd comic twitch

    BY WAYNE ALAN BRENNER

NEWSLETTERS
AC Daily, Events and Promotions, Luvdoc Answers

Breaking news, recommended events, and more

Official Chronicle events, promotions, and giveaways

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)