SALT LAKE CITY — Anthem Theatre Company has created a unique compilation of spooky short original works, Fantod, a word meaning a state of uneasiness and dread. Each story shared that feeling in a different way, and the songs separating the stories were eerie as well. It is hard to say much more without revealing spoilers in these plays; audience members will enjoy them more if they don’t know the stories beforehand.
The first story featured a surprising mix of “creeped out” and excited in Candy (played by Miranda Maurin), both being a great fit for the tale. I wish this play was longer, as it ended abruptly and too obviously, without anything enlightening to explain why the story was told.
The duo Molder and Skully (played by Cayden Price and Hannah Orrock, respectively) were a great team who sang (and often provided accompaniment for) many original and repurposed songs. I loved when Orrock sang “Witchy Woman” by the Eagles because it is such a great fit for Halloween season and Orrock’s voice is so melodic and perfect for that song.
The two stories most fantastic and creative were The Invisible Cage (written by Michael Fletcher) and Dissolve (written by Laurel Myler). Both plays had such perfect, creepy plot twists, and the set up and length of each was just right. I liked Dissolve so much I wish it had been a full-length play. I loved Myler’s use of characters as they were articulately created by the main actress, Kal (Miranda Maurin).
I had difficulty enjoying The Rat King by Fletcher because the story line didn’t seem fully developed. It was sure scary enough for October, though. The story was reminiscent of creepy cults tricking vulnerable people into joining. So even though it was an underdeveloped script, the mood was a great fit for the evening. Fletcher also wrote Shadow People, which seemed incomplete, lacking enough information to follow the story. But I loved the look of Shadow People, especially the lead shadow, played Dallin Featherstone. He also made a perfect Proctor, showing such strong anger and scaring me a few times with his outbursts in Dissolve.
I’m so glad that evening ended with the most enjoyable play, Solomon & Porsenna, written by Myler. This short play was, by far, the funniest and finished off the night with a lighter mood. It was farcical and short, and a fun ghost story to see. Porsenna’s (played by Summer Yates) reaction to her blunder made me laugh so hard as her eyes got so big. I also thought Yates did an exceptional job playing Jane in The Invisible Cage, switching from incoherent to completely able and rational to overexcited and crazy. It was such a fun transition, but nerve-wracking at the same time, to watch.
Fantod was a good experience to get in the season of fear. Though some parts could use some touching up, overall it was an effective series of plays. The length was about an hour and 20 minutes, which was short enough to be enjoyable and not long enough to make me weary. I would recommend seeing Fantod before it ends on Saturday.