by Charles Busch
I’m a Little Pickled Theatre Company
Havana Theatre
July 26-August 9

A play with the title Vampire Lesbians of Sodom is bound to be cheesy. But campy drag is an art form. In order for it to work the cheese needs to be artistic. This production has plenty of cheese but very little art.

The evening actually consists of two short plays, both by Charles Busch, written in 1984 and presented as an off-Broadway double-bill with Busch in drag in the lead female roles. The curtain-raiser, “Sleeping Beauty or Coma,” is nominally set in 1966 London and concerns revolutions in the fashion industry from traditional to mod. It centres on the rise and fall and rise and fall and rise of a young woman to super-model stardom (Laura Leone Hancock).

Busch writes in broad caricatures with pseudo-cinematic intervals that parody bad ‘60s British movies breaking up the rambling story of the model, the doyen, the fashion czar (Luke Day), the photographer, etc. None of it is very funny, and the raciest thing in the show is one girl-on-girl kiss.

“Vampire Lesbians of Sodom” follows various incarnations of a Succubus (Karen Golden) and the Virgin she turns into a vampire (Hancock) from ancient Sodom to contemporary Hollywood and Las Vegas where the two women are now bitchy arch-rivals. They cat-fight over an ingenue (Adam Lolacher--the only drag performance in either playlet in this production) and are pursued by a vampire hunter in the guise of a gossip columnist (Brenda Mathews).

Other than a clever scenario for a movie about Sappho, this piece, too, is surprisingly absent of sexual content. The Queer Quotient in both pieces is extremely tame and terribly dated. Twenty years is a long time these days and Busch’s work really shows its age.

The production is sloppily directed by Randie Parliament, and much of the acting is just awful—not good-awful as camp style requires. The actors I’ve mentioned all have their moments, but the star of the show is undoubtedly Laura Leone Hancock. She’s eminently watchable, stays in character (and in accent), and gives both her ingenues and divas some dimension. She has also designed the array of colorful, campy, elaborate costumes, one of the few other saving graces of this disappointing show.

Jerry Wasserman

last updated: Wednesday, July 27, 2005 4:53 PM
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