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By D. A. Blackburn
Someone should check Lauren Bickers for a pulse.
In the latest main stage show at Planet Ant Theatre, Blood Bath & Beyond, she makes a convincing corpse, an affable vampire slayer and, coupled with Dave Herbst, half of the creepiest romance of the season.
But Bickers and Herbst are just part of the phenomenal ensemble that makes Blood Bath & Beyond a macabre joy to behold. Six all-star players (Dave Davies, Laurel Hufano, Peter Jacokes and Adam Peacock round out the cast) create a coven of disturbing and hilarious characters, spoofing pop culture from Buffy The Vampire Slayer to The Bodyguard, Scooby Doo and just about everything in between.
Blood Bath & Beyond is a fresh adaptation of Shawn Handlon's Boo Ha Ha, which haunted the stage at the Ant in 2001. Handlon's writing is consistently funny - and thoughtful - and in the savvy hands of director Jaime Moyer, it bounds out of the grave as a perfect Halloween treat.
As is often the case at the Ant, Mikey Brown has added his signature to the work in the form of video production, and though opening night saw a few technical problems, his contribution earned fits of raucous laughter - much to the credit of Bickers' ability to play dead.
Each member of the cast carries multiple roles in the work, and without fail, they shift personas with the speed, ease and grace of a vampire. Even the smallest of parts bleeds humorously, and the laughs only cease during scene changes. Costumes and props, too, provide serious laughs, and compliment the talented, versatile cast of comics.
Blood Bath & Beyond plays through Nov. 1, making it the perfect alternative to the old haunted house for a Halloween-themed night out. It won't raise your heart rate with terror, but it's sure to leave you cackling like the most demented of mad scientists.
Planet Ant Theatre, 2357 Caniff, Hamtramck. Fri.-Sat. through Nov. 1, plus Sun., Oct. 26 & Thu, Oct. 30. Tickets: $15. For information: 313-365-4948 or www.planetant.com.
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