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Alice in Slasherland – Vampire Cowboys Theatre Company – Off Broadway Theater Review

 

BETTER THAN A MOVIE BY TIM BURTON

 

picture - Alice in SlasherlandTheater Review

by Cindy Pierre 

published April 4, 2010 

 

Alice in Slasherland

now playing Off Broadway at HERE Arts Center

through April 10

 

The theater stage is peppered with different genres that feed our intellectual and pleasure-seeking sides.  Season after season, we are treated with productions that are educational, comedic, therapeutic, and sometimes even elitist.  There are plenty to choose from, but few take us on a side-splitting, awe-inspiring, exciting escapade like Vampire Cowboys Theatre Company's Alice in Slasherland.  Alice in Slasherland may not be primarily designed to make you think or emote, but who needs that when you're getting lost in a perfectly fun homage to zombie, monster, ghost and kung-fu movies!

 

picture - Alice in SlasherlandTheater patrons, beware!  If you're not a horror movie fan and can't find any humor in gore, teddy bear puppets and makeshift martial arts, you're not likely to understand the delicious mayhem that unravels.  You'll be dumbfounded by the Grindhouse nods, stupefied by the Evil Dead references, and confused by the Candyman-esque plot point that begins the crazy journey.  And if those things knock you off course, you can forget about the knowing laughter that can erupt from recognizing knock-off characters from The Ring and Jeepers Creepers.  But don't let that stop you.  You will be titillated even if it's on a superficial level because the repeated roundhouse kicks, cinematic interludes and webcasts are enough to keep you engaged and giddy even if you don't know what the source material is.

 

If you think that the moniker of the show is a giveaway for the premise, you're in for a surprise.  This production may be running concurrently with Tim Burton's version of the Lewis Carroll classic, but the theme, if you can find one, has little to do with that.  Sure, there are teasers like title cards that divide the show into chapters, tons of fantasy, and a giant killer named Jacob wearing a rabbit mask (Tom Myers aping Jason Vorhees and wielding a sword instead of a watch), but Qui Nguyen's Alice doesn't fall into a rabbit hole.  Instead, she busts out of hell as a half-demon changeling when Lewis (Carlo Alban), a nerdy, broken-hearted teen, decides to play games with the host of a Halloween party and inadvertently opens a portal between hell and earth.  Alice is soon followed by Lucifer's emissaries as they wreak havoc and eat flesh on earth to pave the way for their master.  It's up to Lewis, Alice and his friends Margaret (Bonnie Sherman) and Duncan (Sheldon Best) to save themselves and the world.  But first, there's a lot of cheeky dialogue to be delivered and demon slaying to be done. 

 

picture - Alice in SlasherlandAlice in Slasherland works on many levels because Robert Ross Parker's spot-on direction recreates adventure in familiar movies using a motley crew of underdogs that you want to root for.  If there's an Indiana Jones, Buffy the Vampire Slayer or Ash Williams inside of you, you'll want to leap onto the stage and fight the good fight alongside of the characters.  And if you were an awkward kid that never got the girl or felt sorry for someone just like that, that alone will be enough to make this show satisfying for you.  From Nick Francone's plywood, geometric-shaped forest to Matthew Tennie's remarkable videos, this presentation is well-conceived and innovative from start to finish, even if it doesn't take itself seriously.  The acting is appropriately kitschy, the ventriloquism is amazing, the fight choreography broadly misses the target every time to hilarious effect, and there is fun happening every minute.

 

Alice in Slasherland is not for everyone, but if you daydream about fighting evil and aren't squeamish about seeing copious amounts of fake blood, this 90-minute head trip will make you [insert your name here] in Happyland.

 

cindypierre @ stageandcinema.com

 

photos by Jim Baldassare

 

read the review by Shawn C. Harris

 

 

 
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