Alice in Slasherland. Incumbator Arts Project. By Qui Nguyen. Directed by Robert Ross Parker. With ensemble cast. Running time: 1hr 35mins. No intermission.
[Note: This is a review of the play's 2010 production at HERE. The 2013 revival features a partially different cast.]
We know that crazy Red Queen loves ordering decapitations, but she’s got nothing on Tina (Andrea Marie Smith), the satanic hottie who threatens humanity in Qui Nguyen’s horror-action thrill ride, Alice in Slasherland. Sheathed in scarlet pleather, rocking the stilettos and sporting a mini top hat, Tina doesn’t just command lackeys to carry out ass-kickings; she’s happy to open up multiple cans of whup-ass herself. True, Tina isn’t exactly the Red Queen’s counterpart. As Nguyen makes winkingly clear, his blood-spattered comedy isn’t so much an homage to Lewis Carroll as a demon possessing his defiled corpse.
As we’ve come to expect from Vampire Cowboys’ pulptastic pop-cult romps, Nguyen handles both the scripting and fight-choreography honors. And director Robert Ross Parker never misses a chance to squeeze in sight gags between roundhouses to the face. The loose grab bag of slasher-flick in-jokes (which for expediency’s sake we’ll call a plot) involves a conduit to Hell through which devils are slipping to feast on human flesh. Nerdy teen Lewis (Carlo Alban) joins forces with sassy cheerleader Margaret (Bonnie Sherman) and the titular underworld avenger (Amy Kim Waschke) to save Earth. There’s also a jive-talking teddy bear who will mess you the fuck up, adroitly operated and voiced by Sheldon Best. A good two gallons of blood are sprayed, spewed and squirted over the course of the show.
Just to prove that he’s capable of more textual subtlety than “Bring it, bitch,” Nguyen throws in clever extras, such as a video summary of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland that wraps in Star Wars, Hamlet and Die Hard. Easily the most fun you can have Off-Off Broadway without being arrested for possession or assault, Alice reminds you that well-orchestrated fights, limber actors, trash talk and several lightning-fast costume changes add up to theatrical brilliance. Curiouser and motherfucking curiouser.—David Cote