This Ain’t Santa Claus

. October 8, 2019.
Actor Collaborative’s Jeffrey Albright is a one man cast who recounts meeting a vampire. Photo Credit: Director Nancy Wright.
Actor Collaborative’s Jeffrey Albright is a one man cast who recounts meeting a vampire. Photo Credit: Director Nancy Wright.

ACT presents unusual vampire story, St. Nicholas

While the name St. Nicholas may conjure expectations of snowbound holiday vistas and the warmth of the Christmas season, the Conor McPherson play of the same name, staged by Actors Collaborative Toledo on Saturday, October 19 and Sunday, October 20, is anything but a happy yuletide tale.

“Although most of us associate that name with Christmas, there is no reference in the script to that holiday or to St. Nicholas himself,” director Nancy Wright explains. Instead, St. Nicholas is a harrowing, gothic piece perfect for the Halloween season, a one-man tour de force about a writer who recounts his meeting with a vampire.

“The storyteller, an alcoholic Irish theatre critic who hits bottom at the same moment he meets the undead, is not exactly your typical vampire tale,” Wright said.

Dead inside

“The tone of this play is dark and edgy as it focuses on a middle-aged, late-stage alcoholic who confesses to his audience that he was ‘dead inside’ before he met the vampire… shar(ing) with the (audience) a powerful ‘gift’ that he received as a result of surviving,” Wright said.

A fan of Irish playwright McPherson, Wright came across St. Nicholas and thought of using it as a Halloween-appropriate performance, and knew that she wanted the president and co-founder of Actors Collaborative Toledo, Jeffrey Albright, in the lead role. “When I presented the script to Jeffrey, I offered to direct it. We had a number of conversations about staging it and we’re now in the process of making it happen for Toledo audiences.”

A sacred place

The gothic mood and dark tone of the show’s narrative made the chapel of Trinity Episcopal Church on Adams Street an intriguing venue. “Candlelight combined with the hush of this sacred place enhances the tale of one man’s dark night of the soul. The audience will be able to experience every breath, every intonation, every subtle facial expression,” Wright said.

It can be a tall order for an actor to fill a stage for an entire play on their own, even if the tale he’s spinning involves vampires and personal demons being confronted head-on. But Wright said that having a performer as experienced and nuanced as Albright in the lead gives the show incredible power. “What makes Jeffrey such an exciting actor to work with is that he brings an abundance of creative resources to his performance. Jeffrey embodies and interprets real-life losses and sensitivities in ways that are profoundly moving.”

“I hope the (audience) revel(s) in the power of a suspenseful story, well told, even as they savor the Halloween-season spirit of this tale.”

$12 at the door, $10 in advance
8pm, Saturday, October 19
3pm, Sunday, October 20
Trinity Episcopal Church, 316 Adams St.
419-205-0409 | act419.org