I’m admittedly not the biggest podcast fan — too much sibilance and too many lip smacks from disembodied voices. Welcome to Night Vale, though, has always struck a different chord, with its ingeniously imagination-igniting storytelling, wry humor, and supernatural aura cloaked in mysterious soundscapes. Live, it’s even better, as it adds a human face and the dynamism of live theater to the aural experience. On Valentine’s Day, the cast of the UCSB-alum-created podcast visited the Lobero Theatre for a spooky night of Ghost Stories, a very entertaining experience abuzz with the kind of in-joke enthusiasm of a Rocky Horror screening.
The night, overall, was a delight. Narrator Cecil Gershwin Palmer was the consummate host, playing both a friend as intimate as the voice in your own head and also the terror of your midnight wonderings, capable of both kindly and scary intonations. Meg Bashwiner was lovely and hilarious as emcee and the sentient haze Deb, a lively spark of a performer. If there’s one critique, it’s that the narrative felt emotionally unbalanced, snowballing all its serious weight into the lopsided final act, when the emotionalism felt overdetermined. But with a show this smart and entertaining, it’s exciting to know their true masterpiece is likely yet to come.