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Theater Review - Vamps & wanks

Blood-suckers and seed-spillers populate The Process Theatre Company's double-bill of one-act plays, "Vampire Lesbians of Sodom" and "One Hand Clapping." It's not an evening for lofty themes or lavish production values, but the ensemble embraces the material with a fittingly irreverent sense of humor.

"Lesbians," Charles Busch's 1985 drag-fest, opens "in Bible times" and introduces an immortal succubus (Craig Waldrip) who feeds on young virgins, with Rachel Sorsa playing the latest victim. The ancient set-up isn't very strong, but subsequent scenes in 1920s Hollywood and 1970s Las Vegas turn a premise out of Anne Rice into a silly send-up of showbiz divas.

Waldrip and Sorsa's characters become cat-fighting rivals of the stage and screen, with highlights including Sorsa and a trio of back-up dancers rehearsing a cheesey production number of "I Will Survive." The cast takes palpable pleasure in spoofing old movie stars, with Dan Balmer putting a little Peter Lorre in his sinister butler. To its credit, the play even makes explicit fun of over-the-top drag acting, as when Sorsa tells Waldrip, "You always look like you're smelling shit."

Markie Shalloe's amusing "One Hand Clapping" is only slightly more restrained. Lonesome losers Jill (Marcie Millard) and the appropriately named Jack (Topher Payne) admit to not being "masters of their domain," and in overlapping monologues offer defenses of self- gratification in the face of condemnation from a chorus of religious and mass media figures.

Clapping includes tame impressions of easy targets like Julia Child and Martha Stewart, and Jack's youthful reminiscence of molesting a brisket sounds derivative from Portnoy's Complaint. But Payne and Millard's charmingly chagrined portrayals and Shalloe's persistently funny one-liners hold the work together. Jill recalls letting a boyfriend watch her pleasuring herself: "He said I was doing it wrong!" "One Hand Clapping" ultimately treats its self-loving protagonists with sympathy and finishes on a note that's rather touching. So to speak.


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Vampire Lesbians of Sodom and One Hand Clapping play through Nov. 10 at The Art Farm, 835 Wylie St. Thurs.-Sat. 8 p.m.; Sun. 5 p.m. Sun. $14. 404-586-9860. www.mindspring.com/~theprocess.??