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LA Theater Review

Courting Vampires

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Courting Vampires
Photo Source: Ed Krieger
Rigid, inhibited spinster Rill Archer (Carey Peters) is consumed with rage and resentment when she discovers that her eccentric, free-spirited sister Nina (Maya Lawson) has contracted a fatal blood disease from a vampire (Bo Foxworth) with whom she had a tryst in the local cemetery. (Foxworth plays all the male roles in the production, including Nina's phobic father and a huge array of her old boyfriends.) The two women are determined to kill or otherwise destroy the vampire, and in their search for means, they consult a lawyer, who says they have no case because Nina is still alive, and a priest who drives Rill out of the church because, he says, her fierce anger, hatred, and skepticism pollute the place. For a while, it's possible to think that the vampire may be a metaphor for AIDS or some other mysterious but fatal disease. But apparently he is a vampire and what we are seeing is yet another vampire tale.

Laura Schellhardt's play works best when it pursues a comic vein. Nina's attempts to teach Rill the art of seduction (practiced on her co-worker, the ever-busy Foxworth) are very funny. And Foxworth seems able to wring laughs out of any character or situation. But as the play progresses, it seems to go nowhere and to have no clear meaning. The various oddball events refuse to meld into a coherent pattern.

Director Jessica Kubzansky delivers a slick and visually exciting production on Kurt Boetcher's clever set, honeycombed with gravestones, which open to reveal whatever props are needed. Peters' tough and willful Rill is a finely detailed creation, encased in uptight mannerisms—formidable and funny. Lawson struggles valiantly to find the humanity in a character that seems more concept than living woman. And Foxworth is endlessly engaging, enlivening the action whenever he appears.

Schellhardt might have written a powerful play if she had concentrated on the love and loyalty of two unlike sisters, but the vampire business seems tacked on to provide an opportunity for playing theatrical games.

Presented by and at the Theatre @ Boston Court, 70 N. Mentor Ave., Pasadena.
May 9–June 7. Thu.–Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m.
(626) 683-6883
or www.bostoncourt.org.

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