My last day of the 2016 Victoria Fringe Festival was spent at Langham Court Theatre, taking on three shows during the mid afternoon and spilling into the evening. The transition could not be any more apt with a fun loving cabaret style melodrama, Effie & The Vampire, A Lesbianistic Musical by Dragon Monkey Theatre.
This show is on my list of must see again because of all the fun I see put into this production. It can easily be brought back as a Halloween treat for theatregoers wanting more variety in the arts offered in this city during this season. Between the big three – Kaleidoscope, Launch Pad and RKO Productions – to have an addition to will most likely be appreciated.
Writer Wendy Merk adapted the 1820 play The Vampire by James Robinson Planché by giving it a local spin. References to local landmarks from the City of Victoria, BC (like the next door Rockland Mansion and Mary Todd Island as two settings) help give show a local flavour. Director Gwendolyn Jenkins turned the work into one huge cabaret. There’s traditional dance hall numbers like the English sea shanty, “Blow the man down” by the maid, Bridget, I can certainly see the enthusiasm Gloria Snider put behind into getting into the moment. Other numbers include “Ta-ra-ra Boom-de-ay” and the “Log Driver’s Waltz.”
Lady Rockland (Jannie Balderdash) hopes to have her daughter Pandora (Catriona Black) wed to Lord Carnsew (Kevin Stinson). This young lady is reluctant to and she is well in her rights after seeing how he is deliciously pompous and arrogant. He’s a downright hilarious villain, getting boos and hisses from the audience even without Madam Prompter (Maryellen Law). Effie (Rosemary Jeffery) is a servant who holds a secret, and the affection she shows reveals the tones where this production’s title comes from. The cast also includes Caroline Mackenzie as Floozie McSwill, a detective, trying to get to the bottom of the mystery of where some ladies have disappeared to.
The emphasis in this show is more with the comedy than the supernatural. The latter is a small add, and I was fine with it. To become truly dark, this product might have to be given a bloodier direction. At Fringe, the show is more about minimalism in action. Great costumes are abound, and it could have benefited from having a few more stage props to help establish the environment. For Halloween, I see how this production can get amped up a scream. Is there anyplace that rents a coffin?
4 Blokes out of 5