By Nolan Patrick Smith
High Desert Daily
(Victorville) One is about the possibility of going on a blind date with a vampire, and the other is about a room that is literally to die for. Now being performed at the High Desert Center for the Arts in Victorville, how did the two horror themed original works stack up during this spooky time of the year?
The double header of one-act productions are both written and directed by Michael Barrett. The first show is Date with a Vampire: Sadie (Sacha Gilley) goes on a blind date with odd fellow Benedict (Gareth McKenzie), who just might be a vampire. The acting from the two leads is strong and full of energy as they play very well off of each other’s characters. I will not give anything away, but I will say that the show was packed with comedy, twists, blood, and yes, a vampire or two. The waiter (T.R Marino), Marcella the Extinguisher (Brooke Bollinger), and William (Chris Brannan) all deliver spot on performances, just as funny or as serious as needed. The special effects in the work are a very nice touch, and do add to the overall experience. All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed Date with a Vampire, as it left me pumped up for the second show.
The Haunted Room was next up, and it is a very different show from the previous. Not to say that is bad, because it isn’t. The tone of Date with a Vampire was comedic with a touch of suspense, with this production it was the opposite; suspense tied in with a bit of comedy. Diane (Sharon Faust) has a room that is haunted by an evil spirit, a spirit that kills all who enter the room. She brings in two paranormal investigators, Rick and Tyler (Michael Barrett and Shaun Mayer), to try to rid the room of the ghost, but all is not so simple. Haunted by his deceased love Katy (Jo’lene Patterson), Rick encounters more than he thought with this investigation. The casts all deliver strong performances; even the evil spirit comes across as hauntingly creepy. The live piano score sets the mood for the whole show nicely, and the effects of lighting, sound and of course, blood, add to the mood as well. A short story of acceptance of death and life, I felt it was a nice closing for an enjoyable evening.
A well-balanced display of productions, the two shows were a perfect pairing. Nothing brings the Halloween spirit like stories of ghost and vampires, making this the perfect way to kick of the season. I highly recommend both Date with a Vampire and The Haunted Room. Make sure to go see the productions while you still can at the High Desert Center for the Arts.