The cast consists of Tom McElroy — aka Atomic Elroy —Tristan McElroy, Lisa McElroy, Megan Hauser, and Joseph Forbeck. The first two are clerk and bellhop, respectively, at the Hotel Usher. The rest are patrons who are trying to check out — and it’s not giving anything away to mention that they will fail.
I learned two things at “Hotel Usher.” One is that, if you do it right, you can get an audience to sit attentively for 90 minutes of, mostly, poetry on TV. This is a remarkable achievement — especially considering that, for those who lack insatiable appetites for assonance and alliteration, it’s not particularly good poetry.
The other — and who would have guessed it? — is that it’s possible to have too much tedium. The monotony of mood and remorselessly slow pacing insure that you’ll glance more than once at the bank of clocks running backwards on the wall.
But the result succeeds, sometimes brilliantly. There are many clever touches, from the Ghirardelli mint and pre-moistened towelette that come in your program to the house of cards with which the cast all but hypnotized me during “The Fall of the House of Usher.” The work’s greatest strength is its counterpoint between live acting and pre-recorded dialogue, most powerfully exemplified in the follow-up to “The Pit and the Pendulum.” Here, a taped voice describes Medieval torture techniques while the cast cheerfully enjoys a tea party.
Tickets to the 8 p.m. performance are $10. Chaos Studios Artspace is located at 802 N. Weber St.; call 634-5429 for more information.