A somewhat hackneyed vampire genre gets an absolute and terrific makeover in James Comtois’s play, The Little One (directed by Pete Boisvert).
Cynthia (Becky Byers), a young, recently “turned” vampling, faces challenges in her new life after being bitten by a troubled male vampire who liked to “play with his food before he ate it” and who puts a wood stick through his heart shortly after, committing vampacide.
Marie (Rebecca Comtois), a seasoned motherly vampiress takes Cynthia under her wing to teach the girl about rights and wrongs and dos and don’ts of her new brutal and biting world. After a short crash course on the holistic approach to hunting, feeding and survival, Marie sends her fledgling off to be presented to Gogol – a tattooed, mean and nasty skinhead, who governs the vampiredom by his own rules. Gogol plays a cruel trick on Cynthia, telling her she failed the test and would be put to sleep. Scared, Cynthia puts up a furious fight, suddenly discovering how strong she is even by vampire standards, breaks a leg off an old wooden chair and kills one of Gogol’s goons. Gogol cites Cynthia her rights as “Thou should not kill thou’s own kind,” and puts her in the vault for two years – a relatively mild misdemeanor- type rebuke for an immortal creature who despises light and doesn’t know what to do with all that lifetime she’s got on her hands.
Marie patiently sits outside the vault until Cynthia’s sentence ends – she once had been in a vault herself for twenty years so she wants her unfortunate juvenile delinquent to know there’s a kind soul waiting for her. But when Cynthia is released, she angrily refuses Marie’s support and takes off on her own. She misses her old life so she tries to return to her mother and friends, but she can only see them after dusk, she doesn’t do too well within the proximity of her mother’s crucifix, plus refrigerated blood tastes horribly. No wander Cynthia finally gives up and returns to her adoptive Mama Vampiress.
The play cleverly educates us about the challenges and dilemmas of a vampire’s life, which, by Marie’s definition are nothing to be ashamed of – “It’s just biology.” Some of Marie’s friends have a different opinion. Sergei (Christopher Yustin), a typical intellectual Russian with a philosophical bent (who has his Russian act down to a tee – the accent, the demeanor, and even the way of standing too close to the person he talks to) argues that while vampires are indeed evil creatures, “they are not noble, but not un- noble either.” The meaning of that statement becomes clearer as we learn more about this peculiar blood-sucking nation that battles its own political issues, greed and quests for power, some of which are solved by a wooden stick through the heart. As time goes on and centuries fly, Cynthia finds out that in addition to the long chain of corpses left behind, vampires also have bodies in the closet – Gogol and Marie including. And when things suddenly take an unexpected turn and she looses her guardian vampiress’ protection, she realizes she may have crossed Gogol’s path simply by being Marie’s little one.
With professionally staged fights by Qui Nguyen, beautifully implemented ominous lighting by Daniel Winters and portentous Goth-style costumes designed by Betsy Strong this two-hour show ends too soon, like a good book that you wanted to keep reading. Beautifully incarnated by the entire bloodthirsty cast, the alternate reality unwraps itself, pulling us into Cynthia’s journey, a mix of sweet innocence and vicious temper, acted so wickedly well that we root for her rather than our own kind. The Little One is a play that kidnaps you from modern day East Village reality and drops you into the vampire’s den with total immersion – similar to how J.K. Rowling throws her readers into her mysterious and magical universe, parallel to yet interconnected with our own.
~~~The Little One Written by James Comtois Directed by Pete Boisvert Running time: 2 hours, 1 intermission The Kraine Theater 85 E 4th (btw 2nd and Bowery) Dates: June 17-July 10, 7:30 p.m. Ticket Price: $18.00 For tickets click here or call: 212-352-3101 / 866-811-4111