Brenda Frank’s life has been a hard one. She has terrible parents, a grandma that just passed away, and a lackluster love life. She has a new goal in life though, one that she thinks will make everything all better: she wants to become a vampire. Luckily, she knows just the person to help her start her new undead life. She’s read everything about him online and has now tracked him down to Creatures of the Night Convention XXIII. His name is Fino; he’s smoldering, he’s brooding, and he just so happens to be a centuries-old vampire. But do vampires really exist?
So You Want To Be A Vampire is a shining gem of the Hollywood Fringe Festival. It’s incredibly clever, genuinely funny, and comes complete with a splatter zone. The characters are all exceptionally likeable, and even the ones with less than stellar morals will have you applauding them by the end of the night. This is accomplished via the prodigious talent of writer and producer Marni Troop, of the Offending Shadows Theatre Company. She has a true flair for making characters feel real, witty, and humorous.
The performance itself rests on the shoulders of its strong cast and their wonderful energy. The actors have a natural, unforced chemistry. Brenda (Carrie Bell-Hoerth) is naïve and a bit ridiculous, but never a caricature herself. She is a naïf, much akin to Amelie or a Disney Princess who wholeheartedly believes in something and pursues it against all warning signs. This dramatic and situational irony provides some of the best humor in the experience. And it’s easy to care for her as her heart is nothing but pure.
In contrast, Fino (Christian Chan) has the blackest of hearts; a perfect counterpart to Brenda’s innocence. He is a creature of the night, and appears as if he just stepped off the set of the latest Blade film. He embodies every over-the-top aspect of vampires of lore, but plays it so seriously that it’s hilarious. Further, Chan’s fight choreography is impressive and left the audience with their jaws on the floor—which they had to quickly pick up before they were filled with blood.
Like any good vampire, Fino has minions to keep him safe. Jo is his herculean female bodyguard. Her stoicism provides some quality humor in the face of the silliness occurring around her. Alexandra (Annie Rives) shines the ditzy, but beautiful, fan of Fino—willing to do anything to get the attention of the brooding vamp. Rounding out the trio, Jesse Leighton excels as Kevin, who expertly shifts from a parody of a one-eyed limping minion to a heckling henchman to a dazed convention goer. These three can frequently be found slinking around and offering an ironic response to what’s happening on the stage, stealing the scene in the process. I often found my attention glued to them, rather than the main narrative. Finally, Brenda’s best friend, Georgette (Emily Donn) is the perfect straight (wo)man to ground her friend’s idyllic whimsies, but she has to fight an uphill battle due to Fino’s bad boy appearance.
There’s one other character that we haven’t mentioned yet: the blood. One of the key selling points of this show is the splash zone, and you should take it seriously because the blood is the life — of the party. There was at least one point where I couldn’t see (because of the blood running down my face) or breathe (because I was laughing so hard). If you sit in the splash zone, bring a plastic poncho, or do as I did and revel in getting bloody. Either way your car upholstery will thank you if you bring a towel.
So You Want to be a Vampire is a comic delight. Despite dark themes, the show is light and the laughs never stop. Reminiscent of some of my favorite 80’s horror comedies, this show is just plain fun and I can’t recommend it enough. It would make a refreshing nightcap to anyone’s evening of Fringe shows.
Tickets for So You Want to be a Vampire are available through the Fringe Festival’s official website and runs through June 24th at studio/stage at 520 N. Western.
For even more Fringe Festival recommendations, check out Haunting’s interviews with the creators of upcoming 2017 Fringe shows like Narcissus and Echo and Dark Arts, reviews of shows like The Rise and Fall of Dracula, Normal, Easy Targets, and Fire & Light, or a full listing of notable experiences on our events page.