By Mary Damiano
To look at Erynn Dalton in all her bubbly, blonde loveliness, you’d never think that her tastes run to the macabre.
“It’s a fascination I’ve had as long as I can remember,” says Dalton. “I was an early reader, and I distinctly remember reading Jaws when I was only six years old. Guess my mom and dad weren’t really concerned about what books I was getting my hands on. I moved pretty quickly from Jaws to Stephen King, and I suppose my tastes were pretty much warped from that point on.”
Dalton’s theatre company, Infinite Abyss, specializes in immersive horror theatre. And even when the company does more mainstream plays, they tend to be dark; in the past year they produced Bug, about a paranoid man and the woman who gets pulled into his world, and Extremities, about a rape survivor who captures her rapist.
But Infinite Abyss also does the lighter side of dark, such as their recent labor of love, The Rocky Horror Show, and their current project, Come and Knock on Our Door.
Come and Knock on Our Door, as any die-hard sitcom fan knows, is the opening lyric to the theme song of Three’s Company. For the uninitiated, Three’s Company ran on ABC from 1977 to 1984. The original cast was comprised of John Ritter as Jack, Suzanne Somers as Chrissy, Joyce DeWitt as Janet, Norman Fell and Audra Lindley as Mr. and Mrs. Roper, and Richard Kline as Larry. The premise was quite risqué for the era: In order to share an apartment with Janet and Chrissy, straight guy Jack had to pretend to be gay so their prudish landlord Mr. Roper wouldn’t kick him out. Cast changes and hijinks ensued for eight seasons.
At Infinite Abyss, Come and Knock on Our Door takes on a more sinister bent. In this version, written by Dalton and Fernando Baron II, it’s 1979 in Southern California and Jack is a killer. His roommates are oblivious to his murderous tendencies but his landlord is suspicious and calls in a detective to investigate. The structure is that of a live TV sitcom taping, complete with a comedian from local improv troupe The Sick Puppies. Audience members are encouraged to come dressed in 1970s’ attire.
“Though we tend to focus on dark themes, with all of the horrible news of late related to terrorism and a tense atmosphere due to politics, we wanted to do something light and funny while still remaining true to our horror roots,” Dalton says. “Fernando and I are big fans of both older sitcoms and horror, and the concept was born from a late night Facebook instant message session. The best ideas, at least for us, always seem to come organically during conversation, and this one was no different,” says Dalton, who also directed this world premiere.
Come and Knock on Our Door is the first show in Infinite Abyss’s Slasher Sitcom Series. The plan is to produce one installment each season.
“We’re already working on our next one that will be a slasher sitcom parody of The Brady Bunch, says Dalton. “This one will be called MEAT- The Untold Story of Sam the Butcher. That will go on stage next summer and will be tons of fun!”
Come and Knock on Our Door runs through Sunday at Infinite Abyss in Wilton Manors. For tickets and more information, visit Infinite-Abyss.org