The Play's the Fun

Charles Busch's 1984 camp classic Vampire Lesbians of Sodom began life as a cabaret act and famously went on to become one of off-Broadway's longest-running hits. Though much of the play's initial success had to do with the glamour and chutzpah of Busch himself -- a nice Jewish boy with a winning stage presence who happens to look fabulous in a Balenciaga original -- the script is a comic gem on its own. With epic breadth worthy of D.W. Griffith, Busch's saga moves from the original Twin Cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, to Hollywood in the Jazz Age, then on to Las Vegas today. A ruthless Vampire Succubus and a Reluctant Virgin Sacrifice (the role played by Busch originally) return after centuries as the undead Condesa and her nemesis Madeleine -- in a plot that calls for sex and holy water, for outrageous choreography, crackerjack direction and deadpan humor, for the sort of spontaneity that in truth is anything but spontaneous on stage. In this Sol Theatre Project revival, only Erynn Dalton and Ross Pivec have a vague idea of vocal projection. Robert Hooker's direction makes the play feel a lot longer than memory serves. There are tunnels of time and space between lines, even as delicious show-biz quotations and assorted clever Buschisms fall flat, unsavored by the actors. Camp takes talent, unless you're just camping it up with friends. Still, this enthusiastic production is a work of love by a troupe that may not know enough to make the best of Busch's lines but is nevertheless probably having a very good time putting on a show. There are worse things.


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