ARCHIVE: A Rising Tide Lifts All Ghosts

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Port of Lost Souls: Greg Oliver Bodine returns to Paranormal Books in Asbury Park with DARK SOUNDINGS, a one-man program of ‘”two ghostly tales of ship and shore.” (Photo by Charles Jeffreys)

(First published on Red Bank oRBit October 20, 2009)

In the little more than a year since Paranormal Books and Curiosities creaked open its doors in Asbury Park, proprietress Kathy Kelly and krew have turned this resource for all things arcane and eldritch into a literal museum  — the adjoining exhibit wing currently houses a display of Jersey Devil artifacts both pickled and ostensibly pilfered —  as well as a gift shop, ghost tour station stop, and something of a very intimately scaled theatre. This last is due in large part to actor Greg Oliver Bodine, whose frequent forays to the storefront storytelling parlour have included one-man performances of A Christmas Carol and a pair of ghoulish classics (The Black Cat and The Cask of Amontillado) from the nitre-webbed brain of Edgar Allan Poe.

Adapting the stories himself, committing huge slabs of text to memory, and delivering the words of mystery and imagination in character and costume, Bodine reprised his Poe program a couple of weeks back. For his second Shore area appearance of the Halloween season, however, the actor (who’s performed his repertoire at Manhattan Theatre Source and other venues) returns to Asbury on Wednesday evening with a piece not previously seen here. A double-bill of ghost stories in the great Victorian tradition by the American writer Francis Marion CrawfordDark Soundings is especially appropriate to its seaside setting, being a pair of eerie entertainments in which the maritime meets the macabre.

While F. Marion Crawford doesn’t have nearly the posthumous press that Master Poe has enjoyed, lovers of antique chillers have long lost sleep over the accursed artifacts and waterlogged spectres that wreak mayhem in the isolated, storm-battered settings of Crawford’s coastal curios. Bodine spins the Crawford classics “The Screaming Skull” (1911) and “The Upper Berth” (1894) in character as, respectively,  the retired sea captain Braddock and the upper-class traveler Brisbane — with limited sets, props and lighting augmenting his highly honed storyteller’s skills. Follow the links to read the full text of these public-domain stories, or hold out for this teller of tales to show how it’s done. Admission to tomorrow’s 6:30pm program is $20, and seating is limited, so be sure to reserve passage on this ship of ghosts by calling (732)455-3188.

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