By WILLIAM RONAT
Great fun. Creative production. Good acting. Ha! Had a blast.
I guess I expected it to be a little “campy”, but The Actors’ Asylum “All Girl Dracula” playwright Bob Fisher’s great updated retelling of the classic tale played by an all-female cast.
Given the ancient Greek theater and Shakespearean traditions of men playing female characters, here it was mesmerizing watching women play men. Indeed, i found myself forgetting sometimes that they were women.The entire cast plays it straight (pun intended) and fully commit to their masculine side. Nadine Antaillia is commanding as the vampire-hunting and gospel-spouting Van Helsing, a man ready to pull out a Bowie knife and make short work of the undead. I was reminded of the phrase from the Vietnam era, “sometimes you have to destroy a village in order to save it.” That could also be Van Helsing’s motto.
We are with Becky Behl-Hill every step of the way in her role of Jonathan Harker as she takes him from a respectable lawyer into a twitching madman. Alethea Maldonado brings real menace to her wonderful and powerful Dracula.
Jessica Foix is Mina, Harker’s love interest who in this version is a fierce warrior. Jennifer Frandsen is Dr. Jack Seward who runs a mental institution. They both bring thought-provoking performances to the stage.
The production is presented in the gallery space at the Derek Gores Gallery, prompting some fascinating staging by fearless director Michael Thompson. Given there is no curtain to hide the scene changes, we enjoy the interesting concept of watching characters set for the scene, play the scene
(sometimes dying) and then jump up and quickly move off stage.
Editor’s note: The steam-punky costumes are designed by Susan Weyant. Lighting and sound design by Sam Malesky. This adaptation is written by Bob Fisher, a Chicago playwright who grew up in Satellite Beach. He has adapated a number of classic novels into all-girl plays. He currently runs the Chicago Mammals theater company.
SIDE O’ GRITS: “All-Girl Dracula” by The Actors Asylum runs through Sunday at Derek Gores Gallery, 587 W. Eau Gallie Blvd., Melbourne. It performs 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $20. Get tickets ahead of time by clicking here or pay at the door.