Amy Kim Waschke in Alice in Slasherland
(© Jim Baldassare)
Amy Kim Waschke in Alice in Slasherland
(© Jim Baldassare)
Horror and humor go hand in hand in the Vampire Cowboys Theatre Company's latest effort, Alice in Slasherland, now at HERE Arts Center. Qui Nguyen's witty script parodies the slasher film genre even as it crafts an engaging action/adventure tale. In addition, director Robert Ross Parker and his crackerjack cast strike just the right balance between sincerity and send-up, making for an extremely fun-filled evening.

The hero of the story is Lewis (Carlo Alban), a geeky teenager in love with his best friend, Margaret (Bonnie Sherman), who doesn't seem to think about him in that way. At a Halloween party, he unwittingly opens a gateway to Hell and all sorts of strange creatures begin to come through it. Among them is Alice (Amy Kim Waschke), a zombie girl with something dark lurking deep inside.

Soon enough, the area is being overrun by demons, and the only hope of saving the world lies with Lewis, Margaret, Alice, and Edgar (Sheldon Best), the last of whom is a talking Teddy Bear from Hell. But first they have to get past some very powerful demonic entities, not to mention Lucifer (Andrea Marie Smith), who is currently inhabiting a female body and going by the nickname of "Lucy."

Alban is adorable as Lewis, capturing the character's awkward mannerisms, understandable fear, and unwavering drive to do the right thing. Waschke does zombie moves quite well, and Alice's attempt at a smile is both funny and unsettling. Sherman speaks with an acerbic tongue that gets the most out of Nguyen's sharp dialogue. Best is hilarious as Edgar, manipulating the teddy bear puppet (designed by David Valentine) with skill and expressiveness. Smith makes for a very sexy devil, projecting a winning combination of charisma and malice. Rounding out the cast is Tom Myers in a number of roles, with his creepy Jacob being the most memorable.

The plentiful fight sequences, choreographed by Nguyen, are performed in an intentionally cartoony style that doesn't pretend to be realistic, but is nevertheless skillful and precise. In particular, the final showdown with Lucy is quite a treat.

Despite the show's title, there isn't really any direct relation between Alice in Slasherland and Alice in Wonderland -- a fact that the production acknowledges and makes fun of a couple of times in the show, particularly in an amusing short film sequence. There's also a film short entitled "The Devil's Usher" used at the top of the show which is perhaps the best "turn off your cellphone" announcement I've ever come across.