Social estrangement and loss of identity are the central concerns of this gently warped tale about a bloodthirsty Transylvanian veterinarian, his captive subjects, and an itinerant freak show. Writer-director Bob Fisher claims the Universal horror films of the 1950s as his biggest inspiration--par for the course when it comes to his work with the Mammals, the company he created three years ago to explore and expound upon some of the fixations of his youth. The troupe's earlier efforts (Fatetheft, Clay Continent) tapped directly into the dark side of the human experience, but The Devil Vet seems less concerned with the psychological than with the phantasmagorical. Mostly it's down-and-dirty whacked-out fun: talking poodles, hilarious Eurotrash accents, fountains of fake blood. A little of the original staging's intimacy has been lost in the move to a taller and deeper space, but the 3-D shadow puppetry (courtesy of Patrick McCarthy of the Rubber Monkey Puppet Company) still looks great--the Boris Karloff puppet alone is worth the price of admission. And the blend of puppets and live action in the play's penultimate scene, in keeping with the show's carnival spirit, really must be seen to be believed. Bailiwick Repertory, Bailiwick Arts Center, 1229 W. Belmont, 773-883-1090. Through November 2: Fridays-Saturdays, 10:30 PM. $15.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Chris Callis.