Manbites Dog Theater Is Reprising Its First Show, Jeffrey M. Jones’ “Seventy Scenes of Halloween”

Critically acclaimed Manbites Dog Theater of Durham, NC first staged "Seventy Scenes of Halloween" by Jeffrey M. Jones in December of 1987 (photo by Jon Haas)
Critically acclaimed Manbites Dog Theater of Durham, NC first staged “Seventy Scenes of Halloween” by Jeffrey M. Jones in December of 1987 (photo by Jon Haas)

In celebration of 25 seasons of producing cutting-edge theater in the Bull City, Manbites Dog Theater will reprise its very first production, Seventy Scenes of Halloween by Jeffrey M. Jones, on Nov. 29-Dec. 1 and Dec. 6-9, 12-13, and 15. Akiva Fox and Adam Sobsey will co-direct a cast that includes Emily Hill, Carl Martin, Dan VanHoozer, and Amber J. Wood.

On its website, Manbites Dog Theater writes: “Jeff and Joan are just like you: they live in a nice home, they watch their favorite TV shows, they talk about their day. But tonight is Halloween. There are monsters at the door and ghosts in the closet, and Jeff and Joan are running out of Kandy Korn.”

In addition to co-directors Akiva Fox and Adam Sobsey, the Manbites Dog Theater creative team for Seventy Scenes of Halloween includes technical director Jeremy Parker, scenic designer Torry Bend, lighting designer Liz Droessler, costume designer Sarah C. Widgeon, sound designers Adam Sobsey and Shaun M. Jamieson, fight director Jeff A.R. Jones, and stage manager Shaun Jamieson.

In reviewing previous productions of Seventy Scenes of Halloween, Don Shewey of the Soho News wrote, “The play is almost a cartoon, a succession of brief scenes — some Stan Mack-realistic, some perfectly absurd — separated by blackouts. A young, hip suburban couple sits at home on Halloween watching TV, greeting trick-or-treaters, drinking, quarreling, and so on, while two all-purpose alter-egos known as ‘the Witch’ and `the Beast’ make strange appearances…. [T]he play makes for a funny and theatrical evening; it has the something’s-creepy-in-suburbia air of Sam Shepard’s Buried Child, and the quick takes and precisely overheard dialogue of David Mamet’s Sexual Perversity in Chicago….”

David Hawley of the Saint Paul Dispatch called Seventy Scenes of Halloween “an intriguing new play by Jeffrey M Jones that is a semi-random compilation of episodes.” He added, “It is a wonderfully inventive play, very comic and almost silly in its theatricality, but it is also an intensely anguished play about a marriage that is dying of familiarity. This is an autobiographical piece, so terribly personal that it makes the heart ache with sympathy. Jones is writing about his own failed marriage, blending realism with psychological fantasy and a bit of grisly horror….”

SECOND OPINION: Nov. 28th Durham, NC Duke Chronicle preview by Danielle Muoio:; Nov. 28th Durham, NC Independent Weekly preview by David Fellerath:; and Nov. 22nd Durham, NC Herald-Sun preview by Cliff Bellamy:‘Seventy-Scenes’–Manbites-Dog-Theater-revisits-production-that-started-it-all-? (Note: You must register to read this article.)

Manbites Dog Theater presents SEVENTY SCENES OF HALLOWEEN at 8:15 p.m. Nov. 29-Dec. 1 and Dec. 5, 6, and 8; 3:15 p.m. Dec 9, and 8:15 p.m. Dec. 12-16 at Manbites Dog Theater, 703 Foster St., Durham, North Carolina 27701.

TICKETS: $12 weeknights and $17 Friday-Sunday, except $5 for students with ID and a $2 discount for seniors 62+ and active-duty military personnel.

BOX OFFICE: 919-682-3343 or


VIDEO PREVIEW (by Jon Haas):







The Play: (Broadway Play Publishing).

The Script: (Google Books).

The Playwright: (


Robert W. McDowell is editor and publisher of Triangle Theater Review, a FREE weekly e-mail theatrical newsletter that provides more comprehensive, in-depth coverage of Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill theater than all of the other news media combined. This preview is reprinted with permission from Triangle Theater Review.

To start your FREE subscription to this newsletter, e-mail and type SUBSCRIBE TTR in the Subject: line.

To read all of Robert W. McDowell’s Triangle Theater Review previews and reviews online at Triangle Arts & Entertainment, click

By Robert W. McDowell

Robert W. McDowell is a Raleigh, NC-based freelance writer, editor, and critic. He has written theater, film, book, and music previews and reviews for The News & Observer, The Raleigh Times, Spectator Magazine, and Classical Voice of North Carolina, all based in Raleigh. In 1980-91, he covered business, industry, government, and education for (We the People of) North Carolina magazine, published monthly by N.C. Citizens for Business and Industry. In April 2001, McDowell started Robert's Reviews, a FREE weekly e-mail newsletter that provides comprehensive, in-depth coverage of the performing arts in the Research Triangle area of North Carolina, which includes Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill, and Carrboro. Triangle Review is the latest-and-greatest version of McDowell's original newsletter. (To start your FREE subscription, e-mail robertm748[at] and type SUBSCRIBE TR in the Subject: line.) From December 1980 until September 2017, McDowell served on the board of directors of The Cinema, Inc., a Raleigh-based nonprofit film society formed in 1966. He currently publishes a weekly list of FREE advance screenings of movies in the Triangle area. (To have your e-mail address added to this FREE list, e-mail robertm748[at] and type SUBSCRIBE FFL FREE in the Subject: line.) McDowell also co-edited and supervised the production of Jim Valvano's Guide to Great Eating (JTV Enterprises, 1984), a 224-page sports celebrity cookbook; and he served as a fact checker for Valvano: They Gave Me a Lifetime Contract, and Then They Declared Me Dead (Pocket Books, 1991).