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Theater review by Raven Snook. Incubator Arts Project (see the Off-Off List). By Crystal Skillman. Dir. Robert Ross Parker. With ensemble cast. 1hr 15mins. No intermission.
Sure, Vampire Cowboys’ latest piece of nerdery, Geek!, includes the company’s usual comic-book-inspired madness, like crazed fan-girls, epic duels and a giant walking fuzz ball that’s a cross between Pac-Man and an angry Muppet. But underneath the obscure pop-culture references, broad humor and eye-catching costumes lies something more impressive: genuine heart.
Cosplaying pals Dayna (Allison Buck) and Honey (Becky Byers) are on a mission to meet their favorite comic-book creator, but first they need to conquer the nine levels of the hellish Dante’s Fire-Con. Many things stand in their way—malicious Devil Cats, Gremlins-loving guards and the duo’s nemesis, Gwen (Emily Williams)—but their biggest obstacle may be their own adolescent angst.
All six cast members do solid work, especially Eugene Oh and Rebecca Comtois, who switch characters as quickly as they switch outfits. (Kristina Makowski and Jessica Wegener Shay’s creative costumes are wonders of spandex, lace, glitter and corseting.) And while prior comic-con attendance isn’t required to enjoy Geek!, an appreciation of obsessive fandom certainly helps.
Crystal Skillman’s script goes beyond the superficial snark and touches on topical issues such as bullying and suicide, without seeming preachy or ripped from the headlines. It’s an honest and often hilarious exploration of the complicated, fantasy-fueled, online world some teens inhabit today. Dorks may grow up to inherit the earth, but when you’re young, one nasty comment from an online troll can really ruin your day.—Raven Snook