Becky Byers as Cynthia, the "Little One." Photo by Daniel Winters.
BOTTOM LINE: The Little One is a serious telling of a fledgling vampire learning the ropes FAST amidst ages of betrayal and history; the ensemble is dead serious.
Whoever loves vampires, vampire literature, vampire RPGs (role playing games), music, dress up, or anything goth is sure to get a kick out of this show. Nosedive Productions has taken it upon themselves to bring to stage the most serious and dramatically told tale of a new vampire and how she comes of age in the underground and unknown vampire world of New York City.
This isn't your average campy, staged comedy about vampires, no. What I appreciate most is the freshly new and interesting take on vampire folklore, done with complete seriousness. Without giving too much away, they introduce new spins on vampire interactions with humans and the passing of time that is quite brilliant. Also, the ensemble is clearly quite serious about the subject matter and places great weight on how they portray this world. However, the part that the regular "Joe theatre-goer" might not appreciate in much the same way I did is that this serious take is never tongue in cheek - the cast members take themselves possibly TOO seriously, to the point that I found myself giggling quite often during the course of the play.
Now don't get me wrong - I love how serious they play this story. I liken it to that of a cult movie classic that becomes the standard that every other movie is compared to. Years from now, people will be lining up to see ANY production of this piece just to say, "Yes! I totally stood in line three hours to get tickets." I know that's a lofty prediction, but that's just how tickled it made me. And the gem of the entire show that makes the whole two hours worthwhile is the best one-liner ever uttered in a vampire story: "because I'm a fucking vampire."
There are some notable performances, although every ensemble member should receive high marks for their work. Becky Byers (Cynthia, the "Little One") is an exceptionally skilled performer - not only in her portrayal of an innocent forced to learn the hard knocks in no time, but in her supple physicality, with obvious training in gymnastics, stage combat, and martial arts/dance. In addition, I felt like I was in the midst of some serious RPG players who took their gaming to the nth level: with costumes, varied and believable accents, and extreme belief in the stakes at hand. Patrick Shearer as the dangerous and scheming Gogol, Christopher Yustin as the blatantly honest and hungry Sergei, and Stephen Heskett as the mild-mannered, cultured, friendly Francis are all delights both to listen to and to watch.
The fight choreography by Qui Nguyen is very involved and dangerous, making it exciting albeit a bit slow and under rehearsed. (Since I saw the show the first week, I can only imagine it getting better and better.) Ooh! And the set design by Tim McMath, although sparse and frugal, is especially effective and quite beautiful, especially the backdrop of the second act. The lighting by Daniel Winters is quite stunning and well-executed: see specifically the funeral and club scenes.
All in all, if you're not into vampire stuff, you may get rather bored and unsure what all the hubbub is about in The Little One. BUT! If you have a vampire fetish or even the smallest interest in vampires, you WILL enjoy the giggle factor of this soon to be cult favorite.
(The Little One plays at The Kraine Theater, 85 East 4th Street between 2nd and Bowery Avenues, through July 10th. Performances are Thursday through Saturday at 7:30pm. Tickets are $18 each and are available online at www.theatermania.com or by calling 212-352-3101. For more information visit nosediveproductions.com.)