The first known reference to vampires appeared in written form in Old Russian in AD 1047, soon after Orthodox Christianity moved into Eastern Europe. According to Britannica, the first prose vampire story published in English is believed to be John Polidori’s “The Vampyre” (1819). That was about a mysterious aristocrat named Lord Ruthven who seduces young women, only to drain their blood and disappear. Suffice to say, stories about these blood sucking creatures have been around for a long time and continue to entice and excite readers, listeners and viewers.
Vampire Lesbians of Sodom – first performed in 1984 – mashes together past and present and camps up the whole thing, generating infectious laughter and delight. Written as a satirical play by Charles Busch, the focus is on two immortal lesbian vampires locked in an eternal battle that dates back to biblical times. That was when The Succubus (Jennifer Vuletic) – already aged – needed a virgin to satisfy her blood lust. Although fearful and resistant, her target (Artemis Ioannides), succumbed the moment she met The Succubus’ mesmerising gaze.
But what The Succubus didn’t count on was that her bite would trigger a fearsome rivalry that would continue through successive generations. It would lead to a power struggle between her and The Virgin to conquer Broadway and Hollywood as leading ladies … with no shortage of casualties along the way. Their final showdown is set for Las Vegas in the 1980s.
Vampire Lesbians of Sodom is a rolled gold hoot, which has lost none of its sex appeal. In this case, think shirtless, butch men and another wearing delicate women’s underwear. The Virgin entices. The Succubus maintains an all-powerful evil disposition, until she is challenged … again and again. I loved how a statuesque Jennifer Vuletic owned the stage, moving about purposefully, with a masterful scowl. Artemis Ionnides plays The Virgin as not to be trifled with. She is sex on a stick, who knows how to use her feminine wiles and charm to seduce … and sink her teeth in.
Ash Flanders struts and pouts in assuming the role of the biggest male star in silent pictures, King Carlisle. Carlisle – who is hiding is dark secret – is out to protect his girlfriend, new contract player Renee Vain (Brigid Gallagher), who has been seduced by The Succubus. Gallagher assumes the persona of Vain as all excited and girly. Arguably my favourite actor in the piece is John Marc Desengano, simply deliciously infectious in filling three roles, first appearing as a newcomer to Sodom. His affectations through the ages are a sight for sore eyes. He has the most outrageous fun.
Tom Dent is delightful as his so-called welcome wagon. Zoe Boesen, too, plays multiple characters, revelling as the cross bearing, investigative reporter who undercovers the truth about The Succubus and The Virgin. Cabaret style seating and music pumping as the audience enters engenders a festive mood. We are in the right frame of mind for something special and the cast and creatives deliver. Director Stephen Nicolazzo presses all the right buttons for a night in which passions ignite.
Vampire Lesbians of Sodom is playing at fortyfivedownstairs until 3rd December, 2023.