New:"Vampire Monologues” funnier, smoother

By Kevin Nance
The Tennenessean

In Vampire Monologues, his clever, often riotously funny, and occasionally quite dark theater piece now in a revamped (!) revival by BroadAxe Theatre at Bongo Java, Nashville actor-playwright Jeremy Childs owes a lot more to Jack Kerouac and Lenny Bruce than to Bram Stoker.

Structured as a mostly comic series  of soliloquies, Vampire Monologues exploits our continuing fascination with the creatures of the night—witness the industry that is Anne Rice—dissects contemporary foibles, sends up pop cultural trends from militant feminism to homophobia, and, along the way, makes us laugh ourselves to death.

He gives us man-hating, slogan-spewing vampires; gay-hating vampires who concede they have “nothing against experimentation”; and neurotic standup-comic vampires who grow faint at the sight (much less the taste) of blood.  Who knew Satan-spawn could be such a scream?

And the vampire-hunters are just as screwed up.  Take, for instance, the yuppie who brings his dates into Nosferatu-infested caves, and the Hill Street Blues-like cop buddies who prowl the back streets for giveaway signs of the undead.  “He’s wearing a cape!” one barks into his police radio.  “I repeat, he’s wearing a cape!”

In most of the segments, Childs doesn’t try to go particularly deep, preferring to dazzle us with his knack for trash-talk (much of it X-rated) and his incantatory prose riffs that give off more than a whiff of the Beats from Kerouac to Allen Ginsberg and William Burroughs.  This is high-gloss Saturday Night Live with a hip literary twist, smart without being smart-aleck.

This revised version, directed by Brandon Boyd, is smoother, tighter, and more consistently performed than the original Actors Bridge production in the same venue.  As before, Rachel Agee (as the feminist vampire) and Josh Childs (as the neurotic one) are the stand-outs, indeed, both of their performances are now sharper, with more glints of genuine pain.

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