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Hollywood Fringe 2024: A Story as Old as Time

A Story as Old as Time aims to be a good, old-fashioned horror-comedy and largely succeeds. It’s not quite Abbott and Costello Meet the Mummy, but this tale of mysterious murders tied to an Egyptian exhibit definitely has its tongue firmly lodged in its bandaged cheek.

After a guard is strangled to death, Detective Benjamin Guitierrez (Andres Garcia) is sent to investigate at the Brooklyn Museum, which recently acquired a new mummy for its Egyptian exhibit. Forensic evidence soon links the case to a series of killings that have been taking place nearby; unfortunately, nothing points a definite finger at any of the potential suspects. With the trail growing cold, Guitierrez reluctantly finds himself pondering the possibility that the mummy is somehow involved. Among other things, his former girlfriend Liz (Aline Humbert) – who is now engaged to Ben’s best friend, Officer Mickey (Josh Tracy) – goes into a trance at the museum, vividly recounting the story of the dead mummy’s execution for falling in love with the Pharoah’s daughter. Is Liz the reincarnation of the daughter? Has the mummy resurrected to reclaim her? Or is the notion completely laughable?

The plot of A Story as Old as Time (the title refers to the tragic history of the mummy’s love for the Pharoah’s daughter) is rather generic, but that’s the point. We’re meant to chuckle as Ben follows a trail of clues leading to the kind of conclusion that makes sense only in an old horror movie, and of course we’re there right along with him because we know how these stories play out. The dialogue even namechecks The Mummy (the original version, starring Boris Karloff), so the show is not embarrassed about identifying its influences.

Ben’s reference to a recent TV airing of the 1932 horror classic is not merely fan service but also a possible plot: seeing it may have inspired his theory about a murderous mummy come to life. Moreover, the televised airing could answer another question hanging over the investigation: If Liz is not the reincarnation of Pharoah’s daughter, how does she know what happened? Although it is never spelled out to the audience, she may simply be misremembering what she saw in the movie.

In any case, part of the fun of A Story as Old as Time is pondering the mystery at its core – not so much who will be identified as the killer as which direction the conclusion will take. Is this a genuine supernatural horror story in which the skeptics will be forced to admit that the mummy is real, or is it a spooky mystery-comedy in which the supernatural is explained away? (We won’t give it away, but there is a twist or two to keep you guessing to the very end.)

The ethnically diverse cast underscores the play’s decision to eschew the xenophobia associated with the mummy sub-genre, which tended to feature sinister Egyptians. Here, the foreign suspects are more likely to be comical red herrings than murderers or accomplices; in fact, almost everyone is a comical red herring, and the cast milk their roles for all their worth. As Liz, an American of Egyptian descent, Aline Humbert brings a hysterical abruptness to the character’s rapid-fire transitions from her melodramatic possessed state to her low-key normal self. Yonatan Baevsky raises suspicions by playing Jewish Egyptologist Julius Marks as a little bit too shy and awkward (“I made a friend!” he exults after a thirty-second acquaintance with Ben). Mattie Helton plays her female pathologist’s enthusiasm for grizzly forensic details as borderline orgasmic. In the middle of all this, Andres Garcia’s Detective Ben Guitierrez is the show’s straight man but a straight man who’s in on the joke, narrating his thoughts to the audience with an edge of embarrassment about his mummy theory, which elicits gales of laughter when he floats it to his superiors.

Special mention goes to Josh Tracy, who plays three roles, two of them with dialogue, but almost steals the show as the silent “Snobby Waiter.” In Hollywood Fringe Festival productions, it is more or less a given that actors will serve double duty moving set pieces around to indicate scene changes. A Story as Old as Time embraces this budgetary necessity by creating a character specifically to fill that roll. Tracy hauls tables of various sizes on and off stage, fastidiously dusting off each surface and then casting a disapproving eye upon the audience, brow arched quite archly, as if suggesting patrons are not worthy of his diligent efforts.

Overall, A Story as Old as Time is amusing rather than laugh-out-loud funny, but that’s on par for the spooky comedies it emulates. What matters is its eager-to-please vibe, which is right for what it’s trying to do. There is a glitch or two. Most notably, the resolution of the investigation aims for irony that does not quite work for us (Ben gets a medal even though he didn’t really crack the case); at least it sets up a good gag that drops just before the final curtain, so we shouldn’t complain too much. In the end, A Story as Old as Time is more whodunit than horror, but either way it’s a good time among dusty relics of the sort found in Egyptian tombs and old horror movies.

A Story as Old as Time

Rating Scale

1 – Poor
2 – Mediocre
3 – Good
4 – Great
5 – Excellent

Amusing tribute to old-fashioned horror movie comedies.

A Story Old as Time ran as part of the 2024 Hollywood Fringe Festival. Get more information here.

Credits: Written by Neil L. Yuzuk & Aline Humbert, Josh Tracy, Mattie Helton.. Produced and directed by Aline Humbert. Executive producer: Neil L. Yuzuk. Stage manager: Giorgia Mancini.


  • Aline Humbert as Liz Habib
  • Nabil Thouri as Achmed Aziz and Ofer
  • Josh Tracy as Mickey, Artie Mann, and The Snobby Waiter
  • Andres Garcia as Benjamin Guitierrez
  • Yonatan Baevsky as Julius Marks
  • Mattie Helton as Barbara and Scotty
  • Diné Chavez as Captain Robert Camach.

Steve Biodrowski, Administrator

A graduate of USC film school, Steve Biodrowski has worked as a film critic, journalist, and editor at Movieline, Premiere, Le Cinephage, The Dark Side., Cinefantastique magazine, Fandom.com, and Cinescape Online. He is currently Managing Editor of Cinefantastique Online and owner-operator of Hollywood Gothique.