Anyone familiar with New York’s American Gothic music theatre duo the Coldharts knows about the couple’s uncanny ability to tell a captivating story through haunting song—see Edgar Allan and The Unrepentant Necrophile. Such is the case with their returning Edmonton Fringe folk opera The Legend of White Woman Creek. The story begins with an eager occult professor guiding the audience through a seance to summon the ghost of Anna Morgan Faber—a vengeful woman who still haunts Kansas’ White Woman Creek.
Katie Hartman plays the professor—who is quickly possessed by the spirit of Anna Faber—as she strums an acoustic guitar and belts out traditional dark folk songs in tune with Joni Mitchell, Joan Baez, and other American folk goddesses. The show does do a great job of telling instead of showing and the story of Anna Faber is indeed an unsettling one, yet some of the songs do drag on. I also couldn’t help but notice that many of the songs are basically just another rendition of the previous one which does tie in with the theme, but doesn’t help much in the way of variety. Still, Hartman’s killer voice reverberating through the Walterdale’s walls is powerful and lingering enough to shock and leave the crowd tense and angered. You will truly feel for Anna Faber and if you don’t you just might be a sociopath, or worse, a member of the calvary.