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Theater Fri Jan 21 2011

Wildclaw Theater's Carmilla Steams up the DCA's Storefront Theater

carmilla1.jpg

Sara Gorsky and Michaela Petro. Photo by John W. Sisson, Jr.

What's sexier than lesbian vampires? Wildclaw Theater has certainly capitalized on the steamy aspects of J. Sheridan Le Fanu's Carmilla in their adaptation of the story, re-worked by Aly Renee Greaves. The plethora of cleavage, gore, double entendres and good old-fashioned camp is pretty much what this play has going for it. Audience members looking for subtle drama and narrative buildup will likely leave disappointed, but those who go to the play hoping to be suffocated by fog machines and splashed with fake blood, a la the Shamu show at Sea World, will be thrilled.

Carmilla, a gothic novel first published in 1872, predates Bram Stoker's Dracula by 25 years. It tells the story of a young English woman (Laura, played by Brittany Burch) living in a remote castle in Eastern Europe, in an area that is becoming plagued by mysterious deaths.

Laura opens the performance with a monologue, relating her childhood in a picturesque and solitary castle in the midst of an extensive forest filled with friendly gypsies. She lives there with her father, a wealthy English widower, retired from the Austrian Service, and a couple girlfriends. When she was six years old, Laura had a vision of a beautiful visitor in her bedchamber. Twelve years later Laura is reunited with this beautiful visitor, this time in the flesh, as a house guest named Carmilla who will stay for three months under mysterious circumstances.

Soon after the spirited and opinionated Carmilla (played by Michaela Petro) comes into the picture, grisly murders start happening closer and closer to home. Over the course of a little over two hours with an intermission, Carmilla tells the story of Laura's conversion (both from human to vampire and from innocent young girl to sultry lesbian) under Carmilla's influence.

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Brittany Burch and Michaela Petro. Photo by John W. Sisson, Jr.

The acting in Carmilla is good, although some of the accents are hard to swallow at times. The dialogue has a pesky way of oscillating between being exhausting and boring, but that can probably be attributed to Le Fanu, not the performers. The star of the show is undoubtedly the action, which is utterly over the top, with a fabulous climax involving someone's spine being ripped out of their back. This moment is met with uproars of belly laughs from the audience. It's hard to tell if that was the intended reaction, but for this play, it works.

Performances of Carmilla are on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday evenings at 7:30, and Sunday afternoons at 3 at DCA's Storefront Theater at 66 E. Randolph St., now through February 20. There is no performance on Friday, February 11, due to the holiday, but a special Valentine's Day performance will take place on Monday, February 14, at 7:30pm. A post-show discussion with the cast and crew will follow the performance on Thursday, February 3. Tickets are $20 for general admission and $10 for students and seniors with ID. All tickets are available by calling 312-742-TIXS (8497), visiting www.dcatheater.org, or stopping by the DCA Box Office in the Cultural Center at 78 E. Washington Street.

 
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Architecture Tue Nov 03 2015

Paul Goldberger Describes the "Pragmatism and Poetry" of Frank Gehry's Architecture in His New Book

By Nancy Bishop

Architecture critic Paul Goldberger talks about Frank Gehry's life and work in a new book.
Read this feature »

Steve at the Movies Fri Jan 01 2016

Best Feature Films & Documentaries of 2015

By Steve Prokopy

Read this column »

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