From left, Megan Briggs, Amitis Khoroushi and Laura Domingo appear in Exit Theatre’s “Vampire Christmas.” (Courtesy Jay Yamada)

Undead resemble people in ‘Vampire Christmas’

Vampires have issues, too.

In Stuart Bousel and Allison Page’s new holiday comedy “Vampire Christmas” at Exit Theatre, we find out exactly what those issues are.

Turns out they’re existential in nature, just like ours, only more so. After all, those poor bloodsuckers have to deal with their problems literally forever.

Six vampires, with personalities ranging from snarky to downright nasty, gather to celebrate Christmas, as they’ve been doing for centuries. Two of them — Sharon (Amitis Khoroushi) and Victor (Dan Kurtz), a pair of identical twins locked in a hate relationship — are pure-blood, which means their lives are tightly circumscribed by traditional rules and regulations.

The half-breeds have a little more freedom; they don’t turn into helpless statues at the break of dawn, the way the twins do, but instead have time to head for cover.

Sharon’s BFF, Marjean (Laura Domingo), the hostess, is in a permanent rage because her “maker” (and longtime lover), Theodore (Sam Bertken), has dumped her in favor of an anxious-to-please newcomer, a werewolf named Bitsy (Wera von Wulfen), whose pink and baby-blue outfit contrasts sharply with the ominous black and purple palette worn by the principals.

Also at the weird holiday party, at which blood pudding is basically the only dish, is an affable freshwater fish (Elliot Lieberman), the lover of one of the vampires (the cheerfully randy Georgette, played by Megan Briggs).

Conflicts abound, fueled by jealousy, depression, crises of self-identity, the boredom of immortality and general angst.

There’s plenty of writerly imagination at work here; the world of the undead is well thought out and detailed, as are the personalities and yearnings of each of the characters (which include Matt Weimer as a seductive and world-weary guest).

In fact, they all have monologues expressing their deepest feelings.

But at over two hours, the play is overwritten, stuffed with scenes of pointless and often only moderately clever chit-chat (not to mention an extraneous coke-fueled spree).

Equally egregious is the overacting, presumably at the behest of director Alejandro Emmanuel Torres. The shrill, at times deafening, hollering and screeching seems funny at first and quickly becomes tiresome.

The play has more than enough humor, and some affecting serious moments as well, for it to make an impact without the need to ham it up.

After all, vampires really are just like us, only with more emotional baggage, as the script seems to be saying. So why not trust it?

REVIEW
Vampire Christmas
Presented by Exit Theatre
Where: 156 Eddy St., S.F.
When: 8 p.m. Thursdays-Saturdays; closes Dec. 15
Tickets: $20 to $30
Contact: www.theexit.org

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