Excuse me, is that your blood?

The cheerleader, Margaret May (Bonnie Sherman), and Edgar the teddy bear in Vampire Cowboys’ production of ‘Alice in Slasherland.’
Photo: Jim Baldassare

Alice in Slasherland
Who Redhouse Arts Center
Where 201 S. West St. Syracuse
When Through Oct. 27
Tickets $25
Review by Josh Austin

By the end of the show, there was blood everywhere.

It was smeared across the skeletal set, shirts were soaked in crimson and blotches of red were painted across the faces of the cast.

Occasionally, the blood came from a super soaker.

Yet, that’s all in a days work when it comes to the creations of the Vampire Cowboys Theatre Company. The self-proclaimed “geek” theater brought Alice in Slasherland to The Redhouse Arts Center on Oct. 25, with two more gore filled nights to go.

If you’re looking for a touching play that will make you ponder life’s greatest questions and motivate you to be a better person, this show probably isn’t for you. If you’re looking a night of cussing, half naked women and fight scenes between teenagers and demons, however, you’ve found your match. Oh, and a talking teddy bear.

Alice in Slasherland is nothing like the fairytale. In fact, they say so during the show: “This situation doesn’t resemble [Alice in Wonderland] at all. Like in any way. Even in theme.”

The plot, which depicts a group of teens that open a portal to hell and then try to save the world, is not short on touching moments. These touching moments, however, are mixed in with not-so-subtle allusions to more adult themes like sex. Woven throughout the plot is the coming of age love story between the geeky nobody Lewis (Eugene Oh) and the perky cheerleader Margaret (Bonnie Sherman).

Sherif Dunwoody (Tom Myers) encountering a demon.
Photo: Jim Baldassare

Oh and Sherman are excellent companions in the show. Sherman delivers teenage girl lingo, like “forevs, ” while cast members Nicky Schmidlein and Tom Myers play a variety of roles and each one is funnier than the last.

The comedy/slasher/horror play has no limit on camp. It’s full of cheesy one-liners and less than admirable slapstick — but, in this case, it’s hilarious. Writer and co-founder of Vampire Cowboys Qui Nguyen and director and co-founder Robert Ross Parker found a happy medium to fund the campiness by poking fun at the genre they create.

For instance, when Margaret is at a party drinking, the audience hears: “Tastes like loose morals,” or when the group is fighting off demons: “Hell’s coming, and we have to stop it.” The lines drip serious sarcasm, and the audience ate it up.

Alice, played by Emily Williams, is a kick-ass, take-names-later demon that resembles the freaky girl from The Ring, though only for the first part of the show. Williams brings on the serious fight scenes. Slashing throats and dropkicking demons, Alice is a sexy, awkward hero that every group of teens need for protection.

Stealing the show, however, is Edgar, handled and voiced by Sheldon Best. Edgar, the tiny teddy bear, is a demon with a severe potty-mouth. Edgar participates in fight scenes and even turns into a giant bear to tackle the devil herself, after he is told in a rather melodramatic way that he is “too small.” Best gives an excellent performance as the bear and truly steals the show.

Tom Myers and Sheldon Best in ‘Alice in Slasherland.’
Photo: Jim Baldassare

Parker also introduced video into the show, giving the play a movie double feature like quality. Previews of the upcoming horror film, The Devil’s Usher, and a little snippet of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, were genuinely funny compliments to the show.

Alice in Slasherland is a definite B-rate theater experience. It’s produced by a company that doesn’t take themselves too seriously. They create whatever they feel like, though often inspired by comic-esque themes, and it’s refreshing. The duo, Parker and Nguyen, have gathered an ensemble that works incredibly well together.

When you aren’t in fear that you might get sloshed with blood, this show will make you jump and laugh. It is the perfect pairing for all Halloween lovers and anything sci-fi horror. And, as one character said in a sarcastic, monotone voice: There is “violence, lots and lots of violence.”

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