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Snake in Fridge 

A bizarre but well-crafted gothic horror story at Actors Theatre

Wednesday, Nov 14 2001
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The lights come up on a runty, tattooed club kid viciously knifing his hardwood floor in a high-strung mantra designed to wake up his seemingly dead snake. The catatonic reptile's lack of response gets it tossed in the refrigerator -- where else would you put a dead snake? -- and the tone is set for the rest of Canadian playwright Brad Fraser's 2-1/2-hour unpredictably bizarre and grotesquely funny adventure. Tagged as a gothic horror story, Snake in Fridge is a well-crafted, if fragmentary, amalgamation of spook and chuckle in which a gaggle of societal misfits living in an old Victorian in Toronto struggles to survive a daily grind of seedy employ and habitual drug use. Running the gamut from nude dancer to busboy to porn industry administrator, Fraser's animated set of self-proclaimed freaks gets increasingly freaked out as people get murdered in -- and fed to -- the bloodthirsty house (à la the cannibalistic plant in Little Shop of Horrors). Under the astute direction of Christian Phillips, Actors Theatre fearlessly delivers this concoction of nudity, drugs, sex, and chopped-up body parts, with excellent performances all around. To its merit, the script grapples with more than supernatural terror: The main focus is really sexual abuse, of which most of the characters are victims.

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Karen Macklin

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