Love almost, but not quite, conquors all

Published on Thu, Oct 16, 2008 by Jack Kintner

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Love almost, but not quite, conquors all

By Jack Kintner

In what has become a Blaine Halloween tradition, local director and actor Christopher Key once again has brought a play to the stage that celebrates the season. Vampire Dreams by Suzy Charnas is a creepy thriller with a literate and sophisticated dialog that also provides for outstanding individual performances.

Chief among these is Deming’s Karen Edland, who plays the part of therapist Floria Landauer. She is on stage for all but one of the play’s 40 or so scenes, but easily carries the production into the realm of wonder and spookiness. Her emotional range and projection illuminates the story with an uneasy but intriguing quality, much like candles turn pumpkins into jack-o-lanterns.

The story line is that of a therapist whose career hangs in the balance when she takes on a college professor, played by Key, who is convinced that he’s a vampire. In the beginning she’s sure he’s nuts, but as the play goes on it’s Key’s character who effects a role reversal that has sexual as well as theological overtones.

What is human, after all? “Is making love always followed by making pain?” Key’s character asks at one point.

It’s this dialog between a healer and someone (Key) who sees the human race as little more than cattle, “...what I pursue when I’m hungry,” that makes this work on so many levels.

Is Key really a vampire or just nuts?

Is Edland really a healer or just a lonely woman who thrills at the risky proximity of love and death in the arms of someone who has said he wants to throw her out a tenth-story window?

With only four actors in the cast all need to be strong players, not only to carry the action but to overcome the limitations of the venue, Blaine’s middle school cafeteria. Happily, they are more than equal to the task.

The role of Kenny, a kid whose craziness drives him to a super-honest reporting of what he sees as he stalks the stalker, is handled admirably by film and Shakespearean actor Phillip Wheeler. Blaine favorite Kerry Walker plays Edland’s supervisor in her clinic, Lucille, with timing and gusto, and provides appropriate relief to the starker passages as Key and Edland contend in her office during his therapy sessions.

This is a sophisticated play for adults, one that pushes the edges as Key likes to do, and is not recommended for people under 18. Tickets are $10, $8 for students and seniors.

The play runs October 17, 18, 24 and 25, all at 7:30 p.m., at the Blaine middle school cafeteria, and then goes on the road to Bellingham for evening (7:30 p.m.) performances at the Firehouse Performing Arts Center in Fairhaven on Halloween and November 1, and closes with a matinee at 2 p.m. on Sunday, November 2.