Bricolage Production Co. has created an alternative universe with its Midnight Radio series. For one thing, the clock's all wrong: "Midnight" is actually 9 p.m. More importantly, this is a universe in which live radio drama still happens, and still matters. This most ephemeral form of theater, staged more in the mind than on any set, conjures up special effects that a CGI artist could only dream of. And as in many a computer-driven blockbuster, the story isn't really that important.
This edition, Pittsburgh Ghost Stories, invokes local legends with lurid headlines and creepy landmarks. There is a patina of reality on the tale, written by Matt Adams and company artistic director Jeffrey Carpenter, about a missing child and a haunted Quaker meetinghouse, called a church by the locals in Perryopolis. (Isn't Perryopolis itself frightening enough?) But let's not spoil the ghost-hunters' plot.
As usual, Bricolage fields a solid array of versatile actors portraying multiple characters and various noises: Bria Walker, Lisa Ann Goldsmith, Tony Bingham and Jason McCune, with Foley artist Skyler Sullivan. Carpenter directs the whole shebang, which is not just the "ghost stories" but also the "fake breaking news" (written by Gayle Pazerski and Brad Stephenson) and the "commercials" and "game show" (written by producing artistic director Tami Dixon).
Musical director Deana Muro adds aural color, with further assistance from sound engineer Brendan Kepple, multimedia effects by Andrew J. Paul, and stage manager Caitlin Roper. Torch singer Phat Man Dee belts out a couple of welcome numbers during the "interlude." (See, Midnight Radio does not have an intermission, but there are breaks in the Ghost Stories play-within-the-play. Got it?)
For the full effect, arrive well before curtain to enjoy activities in the lobby (note design by Jesse Connor), and help write the mad-lib "ghost story" to be read during the show. Drink it all in. Midnight Radio is greater than the sum of its parts.