A SRONG BITE - Halloween play would work well any time of year

By Martin Brady for The Nashville Scene

Halloween is upo0n us, and there’s lots of pertinent theatrical entertainment currently running in town:  Dramatized witch legends, illusionists, horror plays, even a ballet version of Dracula.  Myself, I’m awfully glad I caught a performance last weekend of Vampire Monologues, the second Actors Bridge production of the season.  My delight in viewing this original work had nothing to do with Halloween, though.  As far as I’m concerned, this interesting, amusing, and well-acted performance piece would have played just as well in the month of May.  But who are we to argue with the gods of marketing?

The coolest thing about Vampire Monologues, is that is was written by Nashville’s Jeremy Childs, who is a very fine actor in his own right.  He’s also a very witty guy with a fun-loving sense of satire. These gifts are well in evidence in his script a collection of nine monologues that casts a shadowy yet engagingly esoteric light on the lore of vampires.

It’s not much fun to be a vampire, despite what they’d have us believe.  Being pursued by stake-wielding, crucifix-bearing fanatics can really such the life out of your average undead being.  We get both sides of the story in Childs’ collection of solo speeches.  One by one, offbeat performers take center stage upstairs at the intimate Bongo Java coffee house, beginning with Oliver LeRoux, who seems to have swallowed the vampire’s truth serum, so totally does he immerse himself in his befanged character.  LeRoux’s makeup is howlingly good, and so is his exaggerated declaration of what amounts to a vampire’s Bill of Rights.

Eight actors follow him, alternately vampires and vampire-haters, each with uniquely particular points of view.  Christopher Browne is kind of a militantly heterosexual vampire who bemoans the modern trend in female slenderness because it mans he has to suck the blood out of five or six women when one or two used to suffice.  Don Griffith's matter-of-factly describes his regimen as a dedicated vampire killer, much in the way a Mafia hit man might calmly explain his duties.  Author Childs himself makes an appearance as a macho vampire cop, tooling around town in his squad car, looking for delinquent bloodsuckers, and sounding like a doofus while trumpeting his time-tested methods for keeping the peace.

Others in the cast include Peg Allen, who seems to get a sexual charge out of her pursuit of the undead; Jon Royal, who strikes a blow in the name of fat vampires everywhere; and Ned Massey, whose antipathy toward Nosferatu is so bad he’s seeing a shrink.  My own personal favorites are Carla Coble, as the haranguing, overbearing, over-the-top lesbian vampire, and Josh Childs, who closes the show with an absolutely clever rendition of the thoroughly neurotic standup-comic vampire.  He shamelessly works the pathetic concerns of his empty daily life into his shtick.

A singularly entertainingly evening of theater, held together well by its unity of purpose, its intelligent writing, and its keen observations about the silly world we (nearly) human creatures inhabit.

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