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Vampire Lesbians of Sodom

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Vampire Lesbians of Sodom, Broutil & Frothingham Productions, at the Theatre Building Chicago. Alexandra Billings, who made a stunning Chicago stage debut in Charles Busch's travesty a dozen years ago, now makes her directorial debut in the same show. Paying homage to Charles Ludlam's theater of the ridiculous, the B-movie plot details the exploits of two virgin-chomping vampires who betray all the melodramatic excesses of All About Eve and the TV series Absolutely Fabulous. Whether the setting is ancient Sodom, Hollywood in the 20s, or today's Las Vegas, they compete for virginal blood, banner headlines, and the sheer joy of a catfight. No joke is too low for this romp.

Not as polished as the 1990 local premiere or the 1995 revival, this vaudevillian production ranges from mannered to manic. Jerky pacing produces occasional longueurs, interfering with what should be breakneck farce. Honey West--a sweet songstress with a maternal mug--lacks the killer edge of the fearsome Succubus but does better as the forlorn La Condesa. (Alanda Coon alternates in the roles.) Kate Martin as the bloodthirsty competition imitates Billings's machine-gun delivery but unfortunately breaks character to crack up at the supposed humor. As a silent-screen matinee idol Stephen Rader is over-the-top, but his bitchy chorus boy snaps the repartee. The disco-rap finale of this Halloween offering is a hideously choreographed hoot worthy of the ghoulish holiday.

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