Two months out of the year, plays on most local stages share a similar theme. In December, holiday plays are everywhere, whether they're adaptations of something traditional, like Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol, something sappy and sentimental (insert just about every holiday-themed play name here) or an irreverent look at the holidays, such as the Chance Theater's annual mounting of The Eight: Reindeer Monologues.
In October, thanks to the last day of the month, things get ghastly, ghouly and ghostly. At least at most joints. The good thing is that most plays with a macabre bent are vastly more entertaining than the aforementioned holiday plays at the end of the year.
So, taking a look around at local stages offering plays with a certain Halloweeny bent this month reveals seven plays at five venues:
*Fullerton College. This venerable community college's contribution to the month-long Fullerton Shadows Theatre Festival is OC playwright, and Fullerton College theater instructor, William Mittler's adaptation of Mary Shelly's Frankenstein. Fullerton College Campus Theatre, 321 E. Chapman Ave., Fullerton, (714) 992-7150. Runs Oct. 13-Oct. 16. Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m. Sun., 2 p.m. $12.50-$15. theatre.fullcoll.edu.
*The Garage Theatre. Everyone's favorite cutting-edge Long Beach storefront tackles horror-master Clive Barker's The History of the Devil, in which Satan himself goes on trial to determine whether he can get back into heaven. Garage Theatre, 251 E. 7th St., Long Beach, (562) 433-8337. Runs thru Oct. 30. Thurs.-Sat. 8 p.m. $15-$18. www.thegaragetheatre.org.
*The Hunger Artists Theatre Company: This Fullerton troupe, which for 10 years staged the annual gross-out Madame Guignol's Macabre Theatre, has shelved that the past three years. This year, its October slot is a bloody version of an evergreen William Shakespeare comedy, A Midsummer Night's Dream. This one, A Midsummer Night's Scream, is about four teenagers who wander into a cemetery and find themselves in the cross hairs of a battle between ghouls and zombies. Hunger Artists Theatre, 699-A S. State College Blvd., Fullerton, (714) 680-6803. Runs thru Oct. 31. Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 7 p.m. www.hungerartists.com.
*The Maverick Theater. Brian Newell and co. have mounted a theatrical adaptation of George Romero's landmark 1968 zombie film Night of the Living Dead the past several years. The house is always packed. But this year, a late-night offering is also on the Maverick's Boards: Zombie Love: The Musical. Erik Furuheim adapted the film of the same name to the stage and considering the Maverick's solid run of musicals lately, it should be a fun ride. Maverick Theater, 110 E. Maverick Ave., Fullerton, (714) 526-7070. www.mavericktheater.com. Night of the Living Dead runs thru Oct. 30. Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m., with added performances Halloween week.. $20. Zombie Love: The Musical runs thru Oct. 30. Fri.-Sat., 9:30 p.m.$10.
*Stages Theatre. OC's longest-established storefront whips out The Woman in Black, Stephen Malatratt's 1989 adaptation of Susan Hill's 1983 novel about a ghostly haunting in a small town on the east coast of England. A late-night offering, The Poe Plays, in which director David Chorley adapts several plays and short stories of Edgar Allan Poe, is also offered in a light-night slot. Stages, 400 E. Commonwealth, Fullerton, (714) 526-3032. The Woman in Black runs thru Oct. 31. Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m. $15. The Poe Plays run thru Oct. 31. Fri.-Sat., 10 p.m. and Sun., 6 p.m. $10. www.stagesoc.org.