Chemistry and Kitsch: Know Theatre’s World Premiere of “Shock!” is a Delight

Review by Molly Alderson

Friday, October 8th marked the world premiere of Joseph Zettelmaier’s “Shock!”, the spine tingling tale of Miss Spidra. “Shock!” is the first live-theatre production at the Know Theatre‘s Jackson Street space since the COVID-19 pandemic. The energy in the theater highlighted the excitement. 

Directed by Andrew Hungerford, “Shock!” tells the tale of a young actress, Joyce (played by Tess Talbot) in the late 1950’s. The show follows an opportunity she is given by her lovable yet sleazy television producer brother-in-law, Ray Coslaw (played by Paul Riopelle) to take her love of horror movies to the next level, as a Horror Host of a late night television B Movie Extravaganza: Miss Spira’s Night Parlor. 

Talbot’s and Ripoelle’s chemistry on stage chemistry is glorious, seamlessly navigating and landing the dozens of cleverly-crafted jokes and literary puns. It is clear that they are excited to (finally) be on stage after the show’s almost 2-year delay. Their craft is sharp and their delivery is, constantly, spot on. 

The show is told in a unique way, starting with an interview of old Joyce, some 50 years later (sweetly played by Talbot’s own mother, Terry Neumann) reflecting on the experience. The story unfolds through a series of documentary-style video interviews with Joyce and real life depictions of the moments on stage. (Also in the video interviews is Dan Winters as John Oglesby.)

After intermission, the audience is introduced to Lucy Lupnicki (played by Brianna Bernard) a ditzy, fame-obsessed third character who is a perfect compliment to the dynamic duo. 

The characters have a number of thoughtful costume changes which perfectly showcases the time-period and the set design/ props are also thoughtfully curated. (Costume design Noelle Wedig-Johnston and Scenic & Props Designer & Scenic Charge: Kayla WIlliams) 

With a run time of 2:10 minutes, the show is packed full of surprise and delight moments, from campy/ kitschy horror gags, to life lessons around compromise and following your dreams. Specifically, as it relates to being women in the film industry and the challenges they face. 

“Shock!” is sure to be a success among Cincinnati audiences and one you don’t want to miss. Catch this comedic drama at the Know Theatre, through October 24th. Or, viewers can also view the live-action movie rendition on video demand through November 6th. 

Find out more, including COVID protocols, here: https://www.knowtheatre.com/shock/

Molly Alderson is an advertising professional. She is a Wittenberg University alum, where she attended on a theatre scholarship. Since graduating, Molly has performed in both theatre, dance and improv groups across the country.