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

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note: entire contents copyright 1998 by Larry Stark


"Dr. Geechee & The Blood Junkies"

by Ed Bullins

Directed by Mort Kaplan

Set Design by Judy Stacier
Lighting Design by Colin Riley
Costume Design by Mariolga Nido
Sound Design by Ben Arons
Special Effects by Rich Archer
Producer/Stage Manager Brendan Hughes

Tanya......................................................Isabel Rodrigues
Dr. Geechee/Greg........................................Garison Bond
Mama Rhea/Cook/Doorman/Street Pusher...Keith Mascoll
Dandyman/Reverend Hoopes......................Richard Caines
Reporter/Party Girl.....................................Julie Carpineto
Party Girl/Stewardess/Prostitute..............Kaitlyn Greenage
State Trooper/Mourner/Blood Junkie...........Weston Walls
Party Guy..........................................Warren L. Belden Jr.
Cheeta/Carol Lee.............................................Maya Parra
Baker/Reggie.................................................Guy Bushfan
Vito/Doctor Whitlow....................................Amir Darvish


If you've a fondness for classic Ed Wood and Roger Corman films, Ed Bullins' new play "Dr. Geechee & The Blood Junkies" is your cup of tea. It serves up the same chintzy special-effects, the same inept, scenery-chewing acting styles, a faithfulness to the illogic and melodramatic self-importance that made those cinematic pot-boilers immortal. Just check your brains at the door and wait for your incredulous snickers to grow to derisive hoots of hilarity.

The show starts with a drug overdose, culminates in a pact (sealed in sex) the heroine makes with the eponymous villain to bring her dead lover back to life, and rollicks through the traditional zombie-vampire bitings and resurrections that litter the stage with spastically monomaniacal monsters.

Isabel Rodgrigues plays the innocent fiancee whose nightmares turn real. Hers is a direct simplicity, often delivering lengthy explanatory monologs directly to the audience. Hers is the only single-role performance here, and the other ten actors divide themselves in two's and four's with chamelion-like dexterity in most cases.

Richard Caines, for instance, brings an authentic rhythm and fervor to his Sothron Baptist Bible-thumping preacherman, after a sinuous stint as a dredlocked pusherman up in the Big Apple. Kaitlyn Greenage moves well as a dancer, but not until she is bitten and transformed is her forte as a classic screamer fully revealed. Garrison Bond as both the blood-crazed resurrected Greg and the sinister Dr. Geechee himself is somehow upstaged by the animated death-scenes of Weston Walls or Keith Mascoll in support-roles. Mascoll also doubles as old Mama Rhea --- a gesture of whose cane-handle can send people into fits --- and as a Step'n-Fetchit doorman complete with a Bojangles shuffle-dance over his hundred-dollar tip.

This is a modern-day remake and send-up of classically bad horror flics, but it rarely raises their inept innocence to a grand style. "Dr. Geechee" hasn't the astoundingly bad dialog of Ed Wood's masterpieces, nor the inadvertent wit of Corman's "Little Shop" nor the irrational one-note monotony of the "Living Dead" films. But if you love them, you will find them all reflected in one scene or another. In a sense, Ed Bullins and Mort S. Kaplan his director know to much, and not all of their cast has the stylistic urbanity it takes to do deliberate, knowingly bad acting.

For that reason, if you go to the Peabody House in Somerville, it would be best to laugh long and loud and early at whatever tiny details and incongruities strike you as odd. This play functions best when the entire audience, as well as the cast, know that laughing at characters as meaty, nuanced, and complicated as your average Spiderman comic is what will make the evening a success.

Love,
===Anon.

"Dr. Geechee And The Blood Junkies" (till 2 May)
PEABODY HOUSE THEATRE COOP
Elizabeth Peabody House, 277 Broadway, SOMERVILLE
1(617)625-1300

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