For lovers of live entertainment, autumn can be a tricky time.

On the one hand, there’s loads of fine stuff out there to choose from. Plays, ballets, musicals, art shows—by October, most arts organizations have recovered from the summer doldrums and have cranked up into high gear.

But the flip side is that an increasing number of those groups feel the need to leap on what they view as the gravy train of Halloween. You know how it goes—If we stage something scary, then people will bring their kids and neighbors and our budgetary woes will go away.

Except that it rarely works that way. I mean, how many times can you see Frankenstein or The Legend of Sleepy Hollow or Dracula or . . . well, the list goes on and on.

Even worse is the need to shower audiences with blood-and-guts-filled images. Movies, of course, are the worst offenders. But these days, even haunted houses seem to have an insatiable obsession with images so horrific that cable news channels wouldn’t show them. It’s enough to send everyone in the family into unending cycles of night terrors.

Doesn’t anyone do entertainment for grown-ups anymore? I’m not talking about staid and stuffy things; I’m talking about thrillers, things that are suspenseful and smart. “Psychological dramas,” they used to call them.

A few years ago, I stumbled across a tiny theater in Newport that does shows like that. It’s not the only thing they do. Falcon Theatre, as it’s called, does comedies, as well, and the occasional musical. In fact, if you step on it, they have a musical spoof of The Silence of the Lambs running until Oct. 10.

Not everything the Falcon does is fabulous. Like any theater, it occasionally stumbles. But they have a special touch for doing mysteries. Perhaps it’s because of their limited resources. The place is located in a tiny storefront at 636 Monmouth St. It’s an eclectic neighborhood, filled with antique stores, a bar or two and a high-end bike shop. La Mexicana, a pretty decent Mexican restaurant, is just two doors away.

Inside, the Falcon is comfy—a small lobby, a few wooden risers and a tiny stage with lights hanging alarmingly close to the actors’ heads.

“Yeah, that ceiling is kind of low,” says Lindsey Augusta Mercer, who is directing the theater’s production of The Mystery Plays, opening Nov. 6. “But they’ve developed some really good ways to overcome that.”

“They” is Ted Weil and Tracy Schoster, Falcon’s artistic director and managing director, respectively. He’s a co-founder of the group, while she’s been involved since 1991. Together, they have built Falcon into one of the area’s more intriguing small theaters.

Some of the Falcon’s strength has to do with the play selection.

“We try to have a good balance to our seasons,” says Schoster. “And that has attracted good actors and directors.” She insists the play-reading committee responsible for selecting shows doesn’t have any particular predilection for shows that can give you the creeps.

But it seems that every year has one or two thrillers that are particularly memorable.

“I think mysteries work well because our theater is so small,” says Weil, who co-directed last year’s chilling production of The Woman in Black with Schoster. “Everything is right there in front of you. Even if you’re sitting in the back row, you can see the most subtle things on the stage. So you can do things that are really creepy and send chills up the back of the audience members’ necks.”

Schoster and Weil often create elaborate soundtracks for their shows, a time-consuming, but low-budget element that enriches the atmosphere surrounding the shows. For The Woman in Black, for instance, there were winds whistling across a barren landscape, punctuated with inexplicable mechanical hums and the clanking of chains interrupted by sounds like the screams of a drowning child calling out for his mother.

“That was pretty effective, wasn’t it?” says Weil. He won’t say what sort of soundscape he has planned for The Mystery Plays, “but you can be sure that even the best creepy plays—and they are hard to come by—can use a little help from a good soundtrack. And these plays—there are two one acts—are really beautiful.”

He’d been trying to recruit Mercer as a director ever since she arrived in Greater Cincinnati two years ago. She had only recently graduated from Baldwin-Wallace University. But she is ambitious and focused and, within months, was involved with several different theaters.

In less than two years, she landed a job as the assistant to the artistic director at Cincinnati Shakespeare Company, co-founded the Queen City Queer Theatre Collective and still had enough time to direct for the New Edgecliff Theatre and stage A Midsummer Night’s Dream for CSC’s touring Shakespeare in the Parks program.

Although she hadn’t even cast the play when we spoke, her meetings with Weil and Schoster have left her optimistic about the production.

“At some theaters, when you propose some crazy idea—or even not so crazy—the first thing they say is ‘No,’” says Mercer. “There’s no discussion, no thought, nothing. Instead, what I’ve gotten at The Falcon is that they say ‘Yeah, let’s see how we can make that happen.’ It’s a great atmosphere for creating plays.”