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Nightmare Fuel / Theatre

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For Opera examples, see NightmareFuel.Opera.
  • The song "Molasses to Rum" in 1776. Edward Rutledge describes out the slave trade quite brutally, acting out an auction to show the Northern colonies their hypocrisy—it is, after all, Boston ships that sail to Africa. It horrifies the Congress, and it'll probably horrify the viewer at home, too, given what we know about how utterly inhuman the industry was. Especially the film version, which is sung by John Cullum.
    "Who sails the ships out of Boston, laden with bibles and slaves? Who drinks a toast? To the ivory coast? Hail Africa, the slavers have come..."
    "And it's off with the rum and the bibles, and on with the slaves, clink-clink."
    "Gentlemen, do you hear? That's the cry of the auctioneer!"
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  • In A Contempory Theatre's seasonal production of A Christmas Carol, the Marley's Ghost sequence is epitome of this, with several jump scares, mirror scares, etc. leading up to his appearance, where he jumps out of Scrooge's bed. Not from under the bed, from inside it.
  • The Blue Snake, a French Canadian avante garde ballet. At the end of this scene, a creepy moaning giant puppet based on the giant from Jack and the Beanstalk appears. This is where the scene and the clip end. In the next scene, the giant eats people, then he gets his head smashed open and red-clad dancers jump out of the hole.
  • The murder scene in Christopher Marlowe's Edward II is absolutely harrowing to watch; the deposed King Edward is deprived of food and sleep and imprisoned, basically, in a sewer, and his murderer is friendly and comforting before he impales him through the anus with a hot poker.
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  • Andrew Lloyd Webber's Jesus Christ Superstar can have this effect depending on how expressionistically it is staged. Some productions have two of the performers cast as "Judas Tormentors" - a pair of blank-faced mime artists (dressed in nude full-body suits) who silently follow around Judas Iscariot, perhaps standing in for traditional artistic depictions that show the Devil closely following behind Judas as a sort of doppelganger. And when Judas's time is up, he does not commit suicide; these two human shadows prop him up and slip on the noose, and he doesn't resist. Even worse is the sequence in which Jesus is confronted by lepers and other sick people begging to be healed: they lurch around the stage as a kind of inhuman mass, covered in cobwebs, looking like a horde of the living dead. Happy hippie musical? Hardly.
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  • The Boyg in Peer Gynt. Peer is fighting an entity in pitch darkness, no substance whatsoever - and it is always avoiding direct confrontation. On stage, this has been solved in a number of ways, usually with smoke effects and a deep and ominous voice coming from the shadows. Or just a black stage with the main actor struggling alone. It becomes even more scary when considering that Peer takes up some of the traits from the Boyg, effectively becoming like it at the end of the play.
  • Pippin. Most musicals don't end with the main character nearly succumbing to the peer pressure to immolate himself, resulting in the narrator's screaming tantrum when he refuses. The narrator and most of the cast then proceed to peer over the stage, noting that there are many people in the audience who must feel the same, and if they're ever so tempted, "we're right here in your heads", implying that the whole thing was the hallucination of a young man building towards suicide. Then they remove all the trappings of a musical comedy leaving the protagonist and the woman who helped him half-naked and vulnerable on a darkened stage. "How do you feel?" she asks him. "Trapped." THE END. Licensed versions try to make it a little cheerier, but it's still a musical "comedy" about how most young people have no role models or direction, and must learn to either accept their soul-crushing mediocrity or literally destroy themselves. The alternate (and current) ending is potentially even worse. After Pippin and Catherine decide to content themselves with their ordinary life, her son Theo starts singing the chorus to "Corner of the Sky." The Lead Player and the chorus return to the stage and surround the boy, implying they'll start pushing him down that same suicidal path.
  • Anything and everything by Sarah Kane. She wrote five plays in her short life (she committed suicide at the age of 28) - all including absolutely horrific happenings. Examples: a soldier sucking out and swallowing a man's eyes, a dead baby being eaten, a man's genitals being cut off and barbecued, several instances of brutal rape (one concerning a man being sodomized with a metal pole), and people being eaten alive by rats. Her last play, 4:48 Psychosis, is a disjointed nightmare even just to read on the page, with no stage direction or indication of character at all. It gets worse when you read about her life and realize that the play is basically her suicide note.
  • Fort Edmonton Park's Spooktacular is bound to be rife with it more often than not, but they topped themselves in 2013 in more than one area:
    • "The Haunt", which was a Paranormal Activity style tour that relied heavily on Nothing Is Scarier in all three examples and actually worked. The entire 1885 Street area was used for it, and drifting from one building to another was nothing short of uncomfortable when it was that dark out. The story concerned a woman who had been abused by the whole town and committed suicide, and the hosts brought you to where she frequented. At one point you were brought to a bridge where the ghost of said woman appeared behind you and screamed at you... and as a nice Twist Ending, you were brought back to Egge's, where you were trapped in a house full of screaming children and strobe lights.
    • The Dollhouse on 1905 also relied on Nothing Is Scarier and achieved it to a chilling effect. An old woman lives in a house full of dolls, some of which are actually living humans. Before you enter, you are asked if you've seen two girls and are shown a photo of them. The woman's daughter makes her entrance by shouting, "MOMMEEEEE!!! I DON'T LIKE THIS DOLLY ANYMORE, HE IS UGLY! I WANT A TALL ONE!". You are then brought to the kitchen, where said two girls are sitting at the table, and one utters, at one point, "help me...". The little girl soon grabs a syringe, and goes for you... before the lights turn out and you hear a scream. There's also a surprise ending here too; a SWAT team bursts in to seize the premises, which happens so quickly it caused some people to doubt it actually happened.
    • The rovers on 1905 street were worth a mention too; one being an adolescent boy who was a zombie and would literally charge after some people down the whole street, and a burn victim who spoke in a Walter White voice and threatening tone, while limping in a menacing manner.
  • The monologues of Theodore Gottlieb, known as Brother Theodore. He could take an absolutely ridiculous position, such as promoting human guadrupedalism, with a severity and intensity that seemed from Hell itself. Reading Gottlieb's biography reveals his life was pure Nightmare Fuel.

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