The Gorey Truth

Though writer and illustrator Edward Gorey is best known for his macabre, nonsensical illustrated books, he is also the author of a rather bizarre play called The Helpless Doorknob.

"The play is barely a play at all," explains Royce Wood, who is directing the piece as an improv show this month at Bovine Metropolis Theater. It consists of a set of twenty illustrated cards with one-sentence stage directions like "Alethea vanished from a picnic" or "Adela flung Angela's baby from an upstairs window" and simple instructions to shuffle and perform them in any order. So that's just what Bovine's improv specialists, using blown-up cards on an easel, will do for this one-hour show.

Wood says he knows the play has been performed before, but to his knowledge this is the first improvised adaptation. At any point in the program, performers can go up and draw the next card, providing a new direction for the show that's different every night. "Just watching them perform, there are moments where it's really hilarious, and then there are moments of like, I'm sitting in the audience getting chills because it's so creepy," says Wood. "It's this great juxtaposition between this comedy, this nonsense, and then this terror and going back and forth."

The Helpless Doorknob plays every Wednesday night in October at 7:30 p.m. at Bovine Metropolis Theater, 1527 Champa Street. Tickets, $10, are available at or by calling 303-758-4722.

Wednesdays, 7:30 p.m. Starts: Oct. 10. Continues through Oct. 31, 2012