Play about nightmares taps into timeless fears

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(From left to right) Alex Falberg, Curtis Gillen and Arya Shahi, acting out a scene in PigPen Theatre Company’s production of “The Nightmare Story.”

Here’s a bedtime story that might just give you nightmares.

The Irondale Center is hosting the PigPen Theatre Company’s Fringe Festival-award–winning production of “The Nightmare Story” — a modern twist on classic fairy tales that draw out the darkness in these age-old stories.

Just in time for Halloween.

“It’s not like a haunted house — we’re not trying to scare the audience — but it is dark,” said PigPen member Arya Shahi, who formed the troupe with six theater types at Carnegie Mellon in 2008. “We’re dealing with death and ghosts and what a nightmare is, and why it scares us.”

The play is based on Ukrainian folk stories — so you can expect the usual big bad wolves and terrified kids.

PigPen’s rendition follows a small boy who sets out on a journey to find a cure for his coma-stricken mother, who suffers from chronic nightmares. But on his journey, his mom’s nightmares come alive to haunt him.

“The nightmares that have trapped his mom in her mind have come out into the real world and are torturing him,” said Shahi.

The subject matter is certainly sinister, but Shahi said it’s still safe for the kiddies.

“We wrote these plays for people our own age, but we realized it works really well with kids,” he said. “Maybe not 5-year-olds, but definitely 8.”

“The Nightmare Story” at Irondale Center [85 S. Oxford St. between Lafayette and Greene avenues in Fort Greene, (718) 488-9233], Oct. 5–28. For info, go to

Updated 5:26 pm, July 9, 2018
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