Arielle Siegel, Mike Steinmentz, Blake Williams, and Megan Kensil
in Giant Killer Slugs
(© Ahron R. Foster)
Arielle Siegel, Mike Steinmentz,
Blake Williams, and Megan Kensil
in Giant Killer Slugs
(© Ahron R. Foster)
Colby Day's intermittently amusing Giant Killer Slugs, running as part of the Dream Up Festival at Theater for the New City, follows in a long line of camp theater that includes Little Shop of Horrors and Psycho Beach Party. Unlike those shows, however, Slugs fails to create characters that breathe beyond their hokey one-liners, making for a hollow evening.

The play's premise is simple. As the title would suggest, very large slugs with an appetite for humans have been inadvertently unleashed in a small country town where the residents often refer to visitors as "city kids."

Jamie (Arielle Siegel), Amy (Meagan Kensil), Chad (Mike Steinmetz), and Dan (Blake Williams) -- as plastic as they sound -- are on their way to a cabin owned by Dan's uncle for some sort of vacation. The kids don't get much downtime before the creatures descend -- and fishing and the like have to take a back seat to survival.

The show, directed by Daniel Johnsen, is set vaguely in the 1950s, and these four seem straight out of Grease, but the period's horror influences (or what exactly Day's parodying) does not come through as clearly.

The other main problem is that Day's characters are so undefined that it's hard to care what happens to them. When Seymour is eaten by the plant in Little Shop, it's a big moment because we've gotten to known him through his relationship to the plants and Audrey.

Here, Jamie, Amy Chad and Dan are so bland they are interchangeable. Dan's on the track team in his high school and recently had an embarrassing run due to muddy conditions, while Chad's a bigger dolt than any of them. Meanwhile, Jamie and Amy, have no distinguishing characteristics. Most problematically, we never get any sense of their relationship -- just a lot of shrieking when the slugs come.

Admittedly, it's kind of funny when they do. Meagan Gaber's puppets slide across the stage in illuminated absurdity, giving the show its most memorable moments as actors run from the decidedly unterrifying creatures. However, its charm wears thin after a few minutes.