We’ve all heard stories about the mysterious underground tunnels that run beneath the St. Thomas University and University of New Brunswick campus. But imagine if these underground tunnels led to another campus — an alternate otherworldly one. One that was just like UNB, but for half-human, half-mole creatures.
The improvisational theatre company Hot Garbage Players acted out this story in the Wilser’s Room at The Capital Complex on Sept. 22.
The group has three core members, Kirsten Stackhouse, Jean-Michel Cliche and Alex Rioux. For this show, they were joined by guests Jennifer-Lynn Flewelling and Aaron Ellis. Also joining them on stage was Kevin Belyea, who accompanied the acting by playing improvisational guitar.
The room was packed. Every seat was taken.
“I love the community, I’m really impressed with the quality of the performance, the dedication from the performers and the commitment that the community makes consistently to coming out to the shows,” said Hannah Blizzard, a STU student who attended the performance.
The show is called Freddydale. It’s a recurring improv show that’s based on the concept of “[turning] your familiar surroundings into the dangerous, sexy city you wish you were living in,” read the Facebook event description.
The actors kickstarted the show by listening to prompts from the audience.
“Target,” one person yelled. “Campus,” yelled another. “The Tannery,” “the industrial park,” “campus tunnels.”
“I’m still between campus tunnels and Target,” said Rioux.
“Let’s do tunnels,” said Stackhouse. “Maybe we’ll end up at Target.”
The audience was already laughing before the improv group launched into their story.
Welcome to Freddydale
Two first-year students, Timmy and Donnie, met and became best friends during frosh week. It was September, and the two were headed to their first day of classes, reluctantly staring up at the huge hill ahead.
Suddenly, shrubs part, and an old security guard appears. He tells them there’s another way to get up to the top of the hill — tunnels.
“Go into the basement of Memorial Hall,” he said. There, they would find a door that would lead them to the entrance of the tunnels.
The door, labelled with an asbestos warning, had a large red wheel on it. After some hard cranks, it opened. But then Donnie, being the first one to brave the tunnel, disappeared through it after a battle with an unnamed creature.
Timmy never made it to class that day, nor does he for the rest of the year, traumatized at the loss of his best friend.
“He took my best friend! I knew him for 72 hours,” he said.
Flash forward to spring, and two different students encounter the same problem with the hill. On their last day of classes, they also decide to take a different way.
Shrubs part, an old security guard appears. The same story is told and the two new students go to the Memorial Hall basement.
There, they’re met by Timmy who was convinced by his father to attend the last day of classes.
They enter the tunnel together and it seems never-ending.
They follow music that sounds like it’s coming from a gramophone. Light appears through slits in the tunnel walls, they hear clinks and clanks of cafeteria dishes and peer in just to see they’ve arrived at meal hall.
But it’s not the meal hall they’re used to seeing. At a second glance, they realize those aren’t human mouths — they’re snouts.
Soon after, they cross paths with two mole-people who tell them they’ve arrived at Mole Person University.
They end up getting kidnapped and thrown into a hole in the science lab for future experiments.
Timmy ends up escaping through a trap hole in the roof of the tunnel that leads him to an empty department store. Target.
He returns later to rescue the students and also finds Donnie, who has turned into a half-mole person.
The four find an escape route and end up on Graham Street, where they’re welcomed by a drunk student with a cooler full of Alpines.
When all is said and done
“When you do improv, the crazy thing is you throw out all these offers and these ideas,” said Stackhouse. “Then you have to choose sort of the best ones without talking about it ahead of time, in the moment, expanding and bringing the story to an end . . . cause what you try to do instinctually is you want to wrap up all the loose ends.”
The security guard who tricked these students to go into the tunnels ends up being the mole king. He assumes that the students will blow the cover of this underground world, so he hatches a doomsday plan.
Jennifer-Lynn Flewelling is an actor who played one of the students in the show.
“[Improv is] like having a running joke with your friend, where you can say whatever you want to say, and try to make them laugh as much as you can, but there’s other people there that are able to laugh with you and that’s the best part about it.”
The Hot Garbage Players are hosting a one-time improv workshop in the Black Box Theatre at STU on Oct. 4 from 6 to 9 p.m.
The cost is $10 for students and $15 for general admission.