'Phantasmagoria' returns to Orlando with terrifying tales

By Allison Walker Torres, Entertainment Reporter/Anchor
Last Updated: Tuesday, October 10, 2017, 8:26 PM EDT

Losing a child. Obsession. Postpartum depression. A steampunk storytelling troupe is exposing your innermost fears.

  • Orlando show exposes innermost fears
  • Phantasmagoria troupe is in its 8th year
  • Production includes sword swallower, fire dancers

"We've decided to go a little darker and deeper into psychological horror," Phantasmagoria's writer and director John DiDonna said.

Phantasmagoria VIII: The Chains of Fire is literature-based. The production is now in its eighth year in Orlando.

DiDonna said he takes a year to research poets and authors, and comes up with a visual interpretation.

One of the new elements this year is an honest-to-goodness sword swallower.

"The trick of sword swallowing is - there is no trick," DiDonna said. "She swallows a sword."

Vera Vermillion is the sword swallower. She studies things like microbiology and genetics and has a deep curiosity for anatomy.

"It's more of an interest in being able to control your body," Vermillion said, as she swallowed a hedge trimmer right in front of our faces. Oh, and during the show, you might be the one to pull an even longer sword out of her mouth.

Eesh, but - yep.

"I started with coat hangers," she said. "You straighten out a coat hanger - which I do not suggest!"

Meanwhile, sideshows are happening outside of the theater throughout the night, involving fearless fire dancers.

Phantasmagoria VIII: The Chains of Fire runs Oct. 13 - Nov. 4 at the Lowndes Shakespeare Center.

Tickets start at $15.