Theatre Mirror Reviews - "Dr. Geechee & The Blood Junkies"

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note: entire contents copyright 1998 by Beverly Creasey

A Ghoulish Good Time in Somerville

by Beverly Creasey

Ed Bullins' modern hoodoo vampire burlesque "Dr. Geechee and the Blood Junkies" is getting a rip-snortin' world premiere at the Peabody House Theatre Coop in Somerville. Bullins' savvy send-up (and homage to) Black films of the early '70s spoofs Gordon Parks Senior's "Superfly" with its flashy drug dealing anti-hero as well as Bill Crain's "Blacula" ... not to mention Bill Gunn's sophisticated "Blood Couple" about a complex and passionate African-American vampire.

Quite simply,"Dr. Geechee" is non-stop fun. Director Mort Kaplan and company pull off some pretty spectacular special effects for a shoestring production. Even "Phantom of The Opera" can't match Dr. Geechee's chills --- for example, at the sight of a vampire ten feet away bathed in swirling, hissing smoke, back-lit in crimson fire (handily executed by Rich Archer) ... or the heart stopping screams of the "hounds from hell" (nifty sound design by Ben Arons). Isaac Hayes' leitmotif for "Shaft" gets a big laugh as two addlepated policemen mix it up in slow motion, strobe-lit by Colin Riley.

The '70s aren't the only decade Kaplan et al take out after. The blockbuster movie "Basic Instinct" gets a shameless nod and a wink. And I'm still scratching my head over one fantastic exit when invisible ghouls "drag" a poor state trooper (Weston Walls) out of sight feet first!

Guy Bushfan is wonderfully droll (a la "Homicide's" Clark Johnson) as a slow moving cop, and more than sufficiently scary as an evil drug dealer. Amir Darvish is Bushfan's dimwitted sidekick, and later a psycho psychiatrist (who you know will get his!)

Richard Caines does able double duty as a twitchy cokehead and as an over-emphatic, consonant-dragging preacher. But it's Keith Mascoll who steals the show as a red hot voodoo grandma with a snake for an accomplice. Mascoll is no slouch as a persnickety cook or a lily-livered doorman either.

Maya Parra gets to strut her stuff as a sexy, citified pothead and as its antithesis, a sweet Southern magnolia. Everyone, from Warren Belden Jr. to Julie Carpineto to Kaitlin Greenage to that gravity defying Weston Walls make "Dr. Geechee" an out and out hoot to watch.

"Dr. Geechee And The Blood Junkies" (till 2 May)
Elizabeth Peabody House, 277 Broadway, SOMERVILLE

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide