TC Horror Fest Review: Necrophile

"A mortician falls in love with a man as she prepares his corpse for burial. She has three days until the funeral… but three days just isn't enough. The Coldharts return to the Twin Cities Horror Festival with a gothic romance inspired by the notorious 1978 interview with necrophile Karen Greenlee."

Drummer Nate Gebhard warms up prior to a show. (I know this isn't the picture you came looking for, but it's the only one I could find. Deal with it.)

It's as if the Coldharts were taking stock of their repertoire and asking, "What's the weirdest, darkest thing we can do that really showcases Katie's tremendous voice?"

Then they answered, "Wait. We already did that. Twice."

"Alright," they said. "What can we do that's even weirder and darker?"

That, we can be reasonably sure, is how they came to develop a rock opera called The Unrepentant Necrophile. The show itself is probably the Coldharts' most ambitious yet, with a larger, more complex set and greater attention to sound and lighting than they've ever had before. It opens with Katie Hartman strumming on a beat up Fender Squire while co-Coldhart Nick Ryan accompanies on bass and Nate Gebhard, who will go on to play the corpse of the piece, plays drums. The music mostly maintains a Nineties-era garage band feel. Hartman croons bluesily between Radioheadesque wails, starting the show with a healthy grunge sensibility.

Gebhard spends the rest of the show playing the, um... stiff. That's a role that mostly involves keeping still on a table while Hartman has her way with him. The role also has him drumming on a kit taken down and reassembled around him, and there's an impressive bit in which he and Hartman channel Bernie Lomax via some physical acting chops that Charlie Chaplin himself could've called upon, if he'd ever been cast as the Norwegian Blue.

Katie Hartman keeps the show alive not just with her singing and her handling of Gebhard, but also with her attention to the role of lonely mortician pining for a little mortised male companionship. Ryan, playing the third wheel, lends astutely timed levity.

The Unrepentant Necrophile had its flaws. Opening night saw the cast suffering through some sound issues and unwieldy props, but they worked most of those problems out by the second show. I also heard from an audience member who thought it was too thin on plot, and that's probably fair, but that's common in rock operas, and this isn't necessarily a show you go see for its arc anyway. You see it for the same reason you rented Human Centipede the first time: To satisfy your curiosity. You want to see just how they're gonna pull this thing off.

And they do, despite the fumbles. This show is exactly as advertised. One might even say it's dead on, so there's no point in acting surprised if you don't like it.

It's also the kind of show that may not find a life outside of the Horror Fest, (it's almost too weird for Fringe,) so if you want to see it you'd better see it now.

The Unrepentant Necrophile continues at the Southern Theater, 1420 S Washington Ave, MPLS, as part of the Fourth Annual Twin Cities Horror Fest.

Purchase tickets online. ($14-15)

Wed, Oct. 28 @ 7pm
Fri, Oct. 30 @ 10pm

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