Derek M. Koch hosts the popular horror movie podcast, "Monster Kid Radio." He reviewed the play and interviewed Sara Karloff in episode 151.
Rondo Hatton Award winner
Derek M. Koch
He interviewed Randy Bowser in episodes 119 and 120.
"The writing is impressive...It's just great...one of the standout events
I attended this year."
KARLOFF the play just like the venue, is cozy. Boris Karloff walks onto stage, and though we're taken on a tour through Karloff's entire acting life, the conversation is intimate. At imes, he's talking directly to the audience - and he really could have been talking to me personally - and at other times, he's interacting with people like Jack Pierce, Mae Clarke or his family, including daughter Sara.
The story-telling of KARLOFF the play is non-linear. It's dream-like in its structure, floating its audience through Karloff's memories of working on the stage and screen . . . and some bits in-between. There are a few props and costume pieces on stage to help illustrate some of his stories, but in all honesty, they're not needed for this Boris Karloff fan.
Let me stress - they're not NEEDED, but it is a treat to see Karloff don the furry shirt from Son of Frankenstein or put on a wig when he's telling us about the time he played Captain Hook on the stage. So please don't misunderstand me. What I'm hoping I'm communicating here is that I could have sat cross-legged in front of Randy-Bowser-as-Karloff and just listened and watched him perform.
And that's a testament to what Bowser has done here. As the writer, he's distilling Karloff's life story. While the play's timeline deals mostly with the man's journey from starving actor with the unfortunate addiction of needing three meals a day to his legendary place in entertainment history, Bowser gives us Boris Karloff's, or William Henry Pratt's, roots and clearly gives us a picture of what the man's family life was like, from child to husband to father.
The writing of KARLOFF the play is impressive, so much so that if I could, I would buy a copy of the script for myself. You know what else I'd love to bottle up and add to my collection if I could? Randy Bowser's performance. Sara Karloff said it best when she said Randy nailed it. He doesn't do an impersonation. He doesn't intentionally lisp every S sound in his speech, even while joking about it. But I've watched enough Karloff movies and seen enough Karloff on Television to recognize the man's pacing and speech patterns. Randy does nail this, and every once and a while, I closed my eyes and I could imagine Karloff himself speaking to the audience.
I didn't want to keep my eyes closed for too long, though, because then I would have missed some of Bowser's physical performance. When he takes on Karloff as Frankenstein's Monster, I believed he was wearing the leg braces Karloff wore while playing that role. And that's to say nothing of what he does with the rest of his body. It's not pantomime. It's not a caricature. It's just acting.
And it's just good.
No. Strike that. It's just great.
Because of the acting, because of the writing, because of the evident passion on behalf of Bowser and everyone who helped him out, attending KARLOFF the play has become one of the stand out events I attended this year.
I want to talk about how the play ended. I loved it. There's such a nice moment, a crescendo-like note that made my heart grow three sizes that night, and then Bowser gave me something to do with that welled up heart that I'm sure Karloff himself would have appreciated. It ends on a happy note, and a particular song has been song running off and on through my head since the show.
Derek M. Koch