Along Brunswick Street, Fortitude Valley, there’s a number of establishments that offer you the opportunity to have a leather-g-string clad crotch thrust into your face. My mates Simon and Steve reckon they’ve been to all of them. As far as I can tell, it costs a pretty penny to receive this service. Well, I’ve found a cheaper and quite possibly more entertaining option. Further along Brunswick Street, where the old Valley Twin used to be, resides Nash Theatre. And if you’re walking past on a Friday or Saturday night around 11, then I highly recommend you go into Nash, fork out just ten bucks, and feast your eyes on “Vampire Lesbians of Sodom”. High camp, low comedy and plenty of high heels and fabulous makeup and you’ve got yourself a entertaining wind-down to the week…or even a thrilling wind-up to a big weekend, darling.
The aforementioned leather-g-string-clad crotch belonged to Jessica Darcey, one of the “Vampire Lesbians” of the title (it’s a literal piece, people). She is “La Condesa”, and the simple story of VLS is her two thousand year old conflict with Madeline Astarte (Benjamin Hampe), another one of the living dead. It starts way back in Sodom, moves to decadent 1920s Hollywood, and winds up in legwarmers and Olivia-Newton-John crazed 1980s Las Vegas. We learn how these two women have lied, manipulated, and eaten their way through 2000 years of virgins and showbusiness.
The central performances of Darcey and Hampe are terrific, although Hampe seems the more comfortable onstage. There’s nothing like a man in four inch stilettos to make you feel less like a woman, but it was gratifying to see that even Hampe wobbled on occasion. Both actors deserve points for sheer bravado (in Darcey’s case, a sheer nightgown is more appropriate), and their delivery is great. I’m trying to remember some of the classic lines they came out with, but there were so many….oh! Hampe as the Virgin Sacrifice from Sodom screaming “Break my hymen! Break my hymen!” to avoid being bait for the Succubus – that was a favourite.
The other actors all add to the atmosphere, and if I may say so, perve factor of the show. Hey, I’m just looking. Arian King and Brent Summerton play, I guess the term would be “straight men”…but I’m not sure how appropriate that would be for VLS (for a number of reasons!). Summerton played a great insane butler in the 1920s scene, and King’s delivery of 1920s movie star King Carlyle had me in stiches. He had the whole Indiana Jones look down, coupled with that fantastic jaw-moving-soap-opera-star-overacting.
If you’ve never seen a Maori in an outrageous blonde wig, then check out Leo Sio. His mannerisms as gossip write cum vampire hunter Oatsie are fabulous. And Genevieve Langbien as the “girl” of the cast stole the show with her ingenue roles. Her rosy-cheeked innocence was the perfect foil for the drag queen vampire lesbians.
Criticisms? Well, it’s not the most polished of performances, but then, Rocky Horror wasn’t a slick film and it still worked.Some of the staging was sloppy, but forgivable. I had never been to the new Nash theatre before this, and so I observed some of the problems associated with the space that I’m sure the Nash team are already well aware of. The stage must be challenging to work with, very loud on the occasional stomping foot, and with difficult exits. This play worked well with minimal set, but it made me wonder how a more extravagant production would do.
The night I saw VLS I had just come from a performance of the farce “There Goes the Bride” at the Brisbane Arts Theatre. A good show, but a totally different kind of comedy. Seeing VLS afterwards was a revelation, as it was outrageously funny, full of shlocky performances and more camp than a row of tents. The purpose of the Late Night Nash series, says co-ordinator and director Drew Mason, is to put on “good cheap fun entertainment”. It so totally lived up to its ideal, darling. Now, where’s my feather boa?