By Ann Firestone Ungar
Your Invisible Corset, a feminist reimagining of Bram Stoker’s Dracula, the iconic vampire tale, focuses on a woman named Mina, sensitively and strongly played by the script’s gifted playwright, Patricia Lynn. Mina is in a psychiatric hospital where she’s being treated for trauma associated with visions of her dead friend Lucy, affectingly played by Emily Kitchens. Lucy comes to Mina with tales of her relationship with “the master,” a force which promises liberation of women from their invisible corsets, inhibiting them from realizing their potential “locked inside.” Mina is seduced by the psychological projection of her dead friend’s master and she finds herself stalked by this monster.
The characters move between scenes of reality in the hospital where Mina is treated by Susan, a doctor (Elizabeth Anne Rimar), and scenes with the fantastical undead, Lucy and Dracula. Mina is married to John (Patrick T. Horn), an attorney whose job of late has become a vampire killer. The couple love each other, and John battles for the sanity of his wife as she battles her visions and tries to maintain clarity of mind.
It’s not a spoiler, I hope, to tell you that sane reality triumphs over a shrouded monster whose goal is to conquer the world through deception and bloody seduction which creates in its victims a mindless loyalty.
That’s the tale, in short, but it’s the journey on which Hunger & Thirst Theatre takes us that makes this production vital and intriguing. Everyone on stage is stunningly good. To mention another, I turn to Renfield, played by Lauren Lubow. Renfield, a patient in the hospital, is, as Dr. Susan tells us, a zoophagous maniac. She consumes the blood of animals (starting with flies and moving up the scale of living creatures), hoping to become a faithful servant of Dracula. Ms. Lubow’s character, with haunting Transylvanian accent, is so real, so fully obsessed, so scary, that we fully understand Mina’s fascination with her.
I commend the director, Jacob Titus, for translating his lucid vision of this deeply interesting script to the stage; Jordan Reeves, movement and production designer, for his stark and stunning set of blond wooden coffins, often abstract and of multiple uses, on a blond wooden floor; and for his muscular movement and fight choreography which is appropriately frightening.
Sound designer Randall Benichak gives us, for example, Cole Porter’s Night and Day, the theme song of the evening, as the audience waits for the production to begin. It plays over and over, sung in a wide variety of styles, suggesting obsessions of many kinds. “Night and day, you are the one. Only you beneath the moon and under the sun. Whether near to me or far, it’s no matter darling where you are I dream of you, night and day.” Here we have the essence of beliefs in the extreme: dangerous and potentially self-defeating. Even, and especially, Dracula learns that.
YOUR INVISIBLE CORSET – written by Patricia Lynn and directed by Jacob Titus
WITH: Patrick T. Horn (John), Patricia Lynn (Mina), Elizabeth Anne Rimar (Susan), Emily Kitchens (Lucy), Lauren Lebow (Renfield), Nathan Reese Edmondson (Count Dracula)
Heather Olmstead (Stage Manager), Elliott Karliner (Assistant Stage Manager), Jordan Reeves (Movement and Production Designer), Yi-Chung Chen (Lighting Designer), Randall Benichak (Sound Designer)
Presented by Hunger & Thirst Theatre at the Flamboyan Theater at The Clemente (107 Suffolk Street between Rivington and Delancey, New York, NY) through Saturday October 27. The performance schedule is Thursday at 7pm, Friday-Saturday at 8pm, and Sunday at 2pm. There is an additional performance on Saturday, October 27 at 2pm. For tickets and more information, visit www.hungerandthirsttheatre.com.