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A CurtainUp Review

The Vampires
By Robert Hicks

Keith Anderson and   Elissa  Lash
Keith Anderson and Elissa Lash
(Photo: Jeff George)
Harry Kondoleon's dark absurdist comedy The Vampires centers on theater critic Ian's transformation into a vampire, but one senses that all of Kondoleon's peculiar characters prey upon the other's insecurities in some way. Double Helix Theatre Company's 20th anniversary revival hits the mark with its kitschy reading of Kondoleon's humor.

Keith Anderson (Ian), Elissa Lash (CC) and Amanda Fekety (Pat) get most of the laughs through their expressive eyes, exaggerated facial gestures and physical comedy. Sean Breault (Ed) nails his sole one-liner, but he fails to penetrate the darker edges of his character's fatherly rage against Zivia and his sibling rivalries with Ian. Robyn Ganeles (Zivia) shines as the steely-eyed heroin addict, but is awkward and ineffective in her transformation into an insightful mystic. Jason Woodruff (Porter) has his moments, but is mainly unconvincing as the hippie mystic who leads her to the Ashram. For the most part, Kevin Anderson's hilarious costume design, Dana Sterling's subtle, eerie lighting and Daniel Baker's spooky sound design are more effective than the cast in communicating the peculiar and sinister nature of Kondoleon's comic vision of dysfunctional American family life.

After giving his fratboy brother Ed's play a bad review, Ian agrees to rewrite the script of Ed's new patriotic drama, which their two dysfunctional families are preparing to mount in Ed and wife Pat's living room for prospective financial backers. Ian's wife CC persuades Ed to let her design period costumes. Ed decides to live with Pat in a tent in their backyard while their living room is being prepared for the trial production of his play and invitations are sent to VIPs. He later makes a pass at CC and she humorously dismisses him saying, "Go pitch your tent." This sexual double entendre was simply hilarious and Lash's comic timing and line delivery here were perfect.

Meanwhile, Ed and Pat's druggie daughter Zivia longs to sing like Screaming Jay Hawkins on his eerie hit song, "I Put A Spell On You." Pat shuns any discussion of guilt concerning her missing son Axel. Porter, a former druggie himself, has discovered mysticism and marries Zivia transforming her into a psychic who can talk to the souls of the dead in the afterlife. Kondoleon's rather unexpected ending to his play leaves us pondering what meaning "I Put A Spell On You" may have for these characters in the afterlife.

The Vampires
Written by Harry Kondoleon
Directed byPat Diamond

Cast: Keith Anderson (Ian), Sean Breault (Ed), Amanda Fekety (Pat),
Robyn Ganeles (Zivia), Elissa Lash (CC), Jason Woodruff (Porter).
Set design: Erik Flatmo
Costume design: Kevin E. Anderson
Lighting design: Dana Sterling
Sound design: Daniel Baker
2 hours with one intermission

Double Helix at Phil Bosakowski Theatre, 354 West 45th Street, 2nd
level. 1/212-352-3101
June 5-26.
Tuesday-Saturday at 8 pm.; Sunday at 7 pm.
Tickets are $15 and $12 for students and seniors. TDF vouchers are
Reviewed by Robert Hicks based on June 13, 2004. based on performance
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