Regional Reviews: Los Angeles
Vampire Lesbians of Sodom
Also see Kevin's review of Sleeping Beauty, or Coma
During the summer of 2003, the Sol Theatre Project presented Vampire Lesbians of Sodom as a fundraiser, and the formula proved successful. Charles Busch's flagship comedy defined Sol as a fringe force to be reckoned with, and they earned numerous accolades. This year, the Robert Hooker-led troupe was nominated for two Carbonells, including Best Production (Waiting for Godot) and Best Director (Hooker).
Back by popular demand, Sodom opens the Sol's fourth season just in time for the holidays. To sweeten the pot, the troupe will also present Sleeping Beauty, or Coma in repertory, thus calling the double bill the "Charles Busch FreakFest"!
Vampire Lesbians of Sodom is Charles Busch's calling card for one reason: camp. Since its premiere nearly 20 years ago, Sodom stands the test of time by giving us sex and farce. Busch writes a love story of two ladies who, despite their differences, can't get enough of each other. And we can't get enough of them. Last year, Sol had two strong leading players in Kala Kaminsky and Daivd Tarryn-Grae who sold out houses and extended runs. This year, the torch is passed to Erryn Dalton and Ford D'Aprix, who prove that they are capable enough to keep the city of Sodom rocking.
Vampire Lesbians of Sodom consists of three scenes. Scene one opens in, where else, ancient Sodom. Two guards are waiting for a virgin (D'Aprix) to be sacrificed to a succubus (Dalton). The virgin tries to escape but is trapped by a hunter. After their first encounter, the two vamps battle each other through time and other eras, including 1920s Hollywood where the succubus transforms into Condessa, a hot superstar of the moment. The virgin is now Madeleine, Condessa's bitter up-and-coming rival. Their journey ends in a showdown in Las Vegas, as the two vamps duke it out to see who is the best showgirl.
Erryn Dalton portrays Condessa as a sleek, sexy predator. Dalton's facial expressions are priceless (when we can see them through a hideous wig); when Condessa is hurt, Dalton sneers. When Condessa gets her way, Dalton smirks and cackles, marking a strong comeback from the recent Sol production, In the Heart of America. Ford D'Aprix makes a good case as Madeleine, exuding coyness and flamboyance. His innocence is believable, and his vengeance is scandalous, the way Charles Busch intended it to be! What really shows is the chemistry between Dalton and D'Aprix, even down to the matching tattoos. They circle each other like pit bulls in a fight, but bounce energy off each other while they're doing it.
The supporting players bring up the rear like a strong defensive football team. Jim Gibbons proves why he is still the cornerstone of the Sol by giving us a scene-stealing performance as Condessa's disturbed, psychotic butler. Providing strong comic relief are Sol staples Jim Sweet as a too-experienced guard and Jeff Holmes as a gossip columnist/vampire slayer. Sol newcomers Ross Pivec as a scared guard and Melissa McSherry as a cute starlet round out the laughs, although Pivec's portrayal of a 1920s leading man is too much beyond theatre for the deaf! Waving hands while emoting doth not an actor make.
Despite minor weaknesses (including D'Aprix's tendency to imitate Yoda during speeches - hmmm?), Robert Hooker's direction is back on pace. Sodom is only three scenes, so Hooker tweaks it by including a light show, plus the cast's wacky rendition of Britney Spears' "Toxic." On all accounts, the Sol is back like gangbusters proving why the recognition is valid.
Vampire Lesbians of Sodom will be in repertory with Sleeping Beauty, or Coma until December 19th at 1140 NE Flagler Drive in Fort Lauderdale. For more information, please call (954) 525-6555 or visit their website, www.soltheatre.com.
SOL THEATRE PROJECT - Vampire Lesbians of Sodom
Cast: Erryn Dalton, Ford D'Aprix, Jim Gibbons, Jeff Holmes,
Designed by Jim Gibbons and Robert Hooker
Directed by Robert Hooker
See the current theatre season schedule for southern Florida.
-- Kevin Johnson