The Hamiltons | Theater | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

The Hamiltons

Rage of the Stage adapts a cult horror film.

The Hamiltons
Photo courtesy of Heather Gray
The Hamiltons, at Rage of the Stage.

Ah, nothing like a story about plucky orphans and family values to warm the heart -- and curdle the blood come Halloween time. Yes, unlucky orphans are often the victims in traditional scary fairy tales. But the opposite narrative has a legacy just as long, from Hansel and Gretel to (my fave) The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane. Along that spectrum place The Hamiltons, a 2006 cult film by "the Butcher Brothers" (Mitchell Altieri and Phil Flores). It's newly adapted for the Rage of the Stage Players by company director James Michael Shoberg, who also directs.

The production has the usual ROTS hallmarks: a meticulous attention to, not to say obsession with, perfect scenery; a tendency to drag in moving said scenery; and a celebration of sex and violence. Some good rock 'n' roll would help, but the sound system of the South Park Theatre isn't up to the task.

The eponymous family is supposedly blending in as "normal" in a small California town. Eldest brother David (a persnickety Harry J. Roth) takes his head-of-the-family duties seriously, and baby brother Francis (perpetually pouting Jon Wolf) wallows in what seems to be the ordinary angst of adolescence. But it's impossible to miss some very negative vibes from the twins, Darlene and Wendell (respectively, Samantha Kelley as Goth Babe, and Vincent Anthony Bombara as a non-superstar Joe Dallesandro). It's no surprise these guys have had to move around a lot, but -- give credit for good casting -- it's credible that they could be related to each other.

Everyone at ROTS wears multiple hats. Adrienne Fischer shows both acting and tech talents portraying the most sympathetic victim, designing the set and choreographing fights. Applause is also due Deborah A. College as Darlene's unlucky friend; Joseph A. Roots as the good-hearted but dim social worker; Carrie L. Shoberg for a superb scream, costumes and makeup; and Greg Lightner and Lightko Studios for special effects.

Rage of the Stage tends to prefer the visual: the showing rather than the telling of The Hamiltons' story, going for dramatic effect instead of drama. And as always, reveling in the reviling, it's strictly for adult audiences only.


THE HAMILTONS continues through Sat., Nov. 5. Rage of the Stage Players at South Park Theatre. 724.292.8427 or

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