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“Frankenstein in Love” by Clive Barker

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Last year at this season, blood was in the air with three Dracula plays. Now, at the Vortex, the focus is on Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein” with that modern purveyor of horror Clive Barker’s “Frankenstein in Love.”

The adults-only  play is a sprawling collection of variations on the idea of human vivisection and reconstruction set in a grim, Gothic world of putrefaction–an unlikely setting for love and humor to emerge.

But they do.
The play is narrated by the ghost of Maria, a fan dancer/palm reader/whore.
We find deposed Latin American dictator Perez (Fernando Gonzales) cowering in the laboratory of Dr. Joseph Frankenstein after a revolutionary coup.
The rebel leader is the mysterious El Coco (“The Boogeyman”), one of Dr. Frankenstein’s experiments, constructed of body parts from various corpses. He is literally a divided man; when Maria reads his palm, she finds one fortune on his left hand and another on his right.
With the help of his henchman Cockatoo, El Coco becomes President despite an addiction to heroin and a taste for human flesh. Another, more successful, Frankenstein construction, is Veronique. El Coco falls in love with her, but their romance is interrupted when he is killed, flayed, and incinerated. Fortunately, he is reanimated in the second act. Dr. Frankenstein himself arrives and declares his love for Veronique, thus forming a love triangle of the creator and his creations.
You get the idea.
Like Dr. Frankenstein, Director Miguel Martinez joins a variety of acting styles in his production. Danny Solis, handsome as a bronzed Aztec god by the end of the play, presents El Coco with operatic intensity, declaiming his often-didactic lines with a stentorian voice. Aaron Worley broadly plays Dr. Frankenstein as a Teutonic villain, speaking his often-didactic lines in a German accent. And Brandy Slagle portrays the attractive love interest, Veronique, naturalistically. Yet these styles somehow blend in their scenes together.
The second act begins with two new characters, Dr. Fook an overburdened mortuary pathologist with a penchant for ladies’ undies, and Bozuffi, a super-gay tailor. Ross Kelly plays the strange doctor with an amazing array of tics and mannerisms, while Mateo Sarria combines a limp wrist with a limp lisp as a boffo Bozuffi. The scene is hilarious.
Cydne Shulte is sufficiently spectral as Maria, and Darryl DeLoach makes a fine Cockatoo. Corey Welk’s make-up deserves accolades. She provides El Coco a scarred and variegated face reflecting the splicing that produced it. Prop Master Andy Linderkamp constructed two peculiar boxes that punish the curious and a mysterious severed head that talks.
“Frankenstein” provides Halloween laughs and shivers.
If You Go WHAT: “Frankenstein in Love” by Clive Barker WHEN: Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m., Sunday at 6 p.m. through November 6. Special Halloween performance WHERE: The Vortex Theatre, 2004½ Central, SE HOW MUCH: General public $10; seniors, students $8; Sundays $8. Reservations 247-8600

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