Pale-skinned teen Eve not only believes in vampires, she in convinced that she is one. After all, her parental older sister Tabby has told her so, keeping her confined in a dark, dank, cave-like room, away from the deadly rays of sunlight.
The two women inhabit a contemporary play by Joseph Wilde with the ironically benign title of Cuddles, the latest kinky theater piece brought to Delray Beach’s Arts Garage by artistic director Keith Garsson.
If you do not happen to buy the existence of vampires or have been turned off to them by the Twilight series, feel free to pass on this slight, brief British import. But underneath all the vampire mythology — “There are three ways to kill a vampire: Sunlight, decapitation or a stake through the heart” — there is an even more twisted, entirely human explanation for the play’s blood-curdling events.
Getting to the core of the matter, however, takes most of the production’s 80 intermissionless minutes and a lot of shrill screaming from Emily Freeman (Eve) and Vera Samuels (Tabby), the symbiotic siblings of Cuddles. Some of that high-pitched emoting is probably necessary, but Wilde’s script seems to call for a variety of emotion levels, while the two actresses stay too much of the time at a single, mirror-shattering volume level.
Tabby has declared a strict set of rules by which Eve must live. They range from the life-threatening (“Never bite the neck”) to the amusing (“Never cheat at Monopoly”), but all are intended to maintain the isolation that Tabby has worked so hard at creating. And if that means giving up some blood to perpetually thirsty Eve, well, what else is family for?
While Eve is locked inside the cave, and often chained on a leash to her meager bed, Tabby slips away to her office job, interacting with her (unseen) fellow employees and attracting the romantic attentions of a guy named Steve, also invisible to us. It remains unclear whether there is a dramatic reason why these other characters never materialize, beyond the obvious payroll savings.
Bombshell Productions is credited with the massive cavern set design and David Hart provides the soundscape, which places voices all around the Arts Garage black box space. The production looks good, but the play — like Eve — has nowhere to go. Cuddles has bite, but is ultimately not much of a meal.
CUDDLES, Theatre at Arts Garage, 94 2nd Ave., Delray Beach, Through Sunday, Dec. 11. $45. 561-450-6357.