Vampires sink their fangs into Christmas in this jolly immersive experience.
With Halloween 2021 fading into history, many haunt-addicts are undergoing serious withdrawal pains, which they no doubt hope to assuage with Krampus-themed Christmas events in December. Fortunately, there is much better option available now: dining with vampires!
Bite: Season’s Bleedings, the latest interactive theatrical event from The Count’s Den, offers a blood-thirsty if tongue-in-cheek variation on holiday cheer, with the venue’s resident clan of dysfunctional immortals opening their home to human visitors for a Christmas cocktail party fraught with family tension. The ninety-minute soiree, including dinner and drinks, offers a lively evening’s entertainment for those willing to risk their necks for a chance to mingle with the undead.
Bite Season’s Bleedings Review: Setup
A sequel to Halloween 2019’s Bite, Season’s Bleedings reunites Countess Izadora’s family beneath the Christmas tree. The little-seen Count is long gone, and Meg, the bubble-headed wanna-be vampire we met last time, is now a full-fledge member of the family, adjusting to her recent conversion by drinking “vegan” blood concocted by her sister, which relieves the family from preying on humans – though some still prefer the real thing.
Tensions abound. Meg’s sister hates her (she hates just about everybody, including the guests – i.e., you). The Countess is resentful of having to welcome humans into her home: apparently, she needs money to maintain the family dwelling; why else would she accept paying visitors? For the same reason, she and the rest of her nuclear family are (barely) tolerating their out-of-town cousins, a male and female pair of twins from New York (who have reasons of their own for needing to move to the West Coast).
More problematic, Meg has invited a date to dinner, the nerdy Ned, whom she met on TikTok. A rather overly optimistic go-getter, Ned has come expecting to ingratiate himself with the Countess and propose marriage to Meg, hoping to join the ranks of the immortals himself. Unfortunately, he doesn’t really resemble the alleged picture of himself that Meg saw online. His bumbling attempts to overcome Meg’s reluctance will form the main plotline for the evening.
Bite Season’s Bleedings Review: Format
A combination of immersive experience and interactive theatre, Bite: Season’s Bleedings affords ample opportunity for one-on-one interaction with the cast, including improvisational conversation, while the overall storyline plays out in scripted dialogue.
The experience begins with an introduction in the reception area, which is fashioned to resemble a cozy study, with books and a fireplace. After a short explanation of what to expect and how things work (don’t be afraid to engage the characters – that’s what this show is all about), guests move into the main dining room, which is wonderfully decked out for the season, with presents, a Christmas tree, and decorations adding a yuletide flavor to the usually ominous ambience of Count’s Den.
The main action takes place here, but from time to time, characters will invite you to other areas: one small room offers a photo op; Meg take you back to the study to listen to her dubious attempt at fiction-writing; the incestuous New York vampire twins, who have no use for artificial blood alternatives, lure you upstairs for a sinister encounter that edges as close to outright horror as the evening gets. Some guests even get to open presents.
Throughout all of this, the story threads are revealed bit by bit in non-linear fashion. How much you learn, and in what order, depends on which characters you talk to. Fortunately, there is plenty of time to mingle over cocktails, and during dinner the vampires change seats from time to time, talking to everyone, so a fairly complete picture of the evening’s events eventually emerges.
Bite Season’s Bleedings also throws in a couple of musical numbers, to some extent just for the fun of it but also to make a dramatic point. Meg, dressed in reindeer antlers, does a ridiculous dance while evading Ned’s overtures. Interrupting one character’s attempt at heartfelt dinner speech, vampire twins swing into a clever rendition of “Baby, It’s Cold Outside,” with lyrics altered to warn of sunlight rather than snow.
Along the way, you can take little tangents, asking your hosts about their vampire proclivities. All of them seem rather eager to talk about themselves, even the anti-social ones, so the conversation is always amusing. However, be sure to grab your opportunities as soon as they present themselves, because ultimately this is a play with narrative pushing forward to a conclusion, and there is only so much time for chit-chat before the characters resume – and ultimately resolve – their situation.
Bite Season’s Bleedings Review: Conclusion
Bite: Season’s Bleedings is weirdly upbeat fun. That may seem like strange praise for a play about vampires; however, the tone is more colorful and festive than its predecessor’s, with an emphasis on humor rather than horror. It’s a bit like being dropped into the middle of a melodramatic soap opera but with characters whose very nature and existence makes them not only capable of but inclined to breaking social norms. So anything can – and does – happen, leading to a gruesome conclusion that is hysterically funny and oddly heartwarming in its depiction of family reconciliation.
The cast is fantastic at staying in character no matter what the audience throws at them, and the characters are well delineated; even when they share much in common (such as contempt for their human guests), they express it in their own ways. The various musical numbers, along with the Countess’s reading of a creepy Christmas story, give them moments to shine, and they take for all they are worth.
As for the dinner party aspect of the experience, the cocktails are good: you get one at the beginning, which puts you in the mood for dining with the undead, then one or two more later in the evening with your meal. The food itself is passable (at least the vegetarian option we tried), but that’s almost part of the story, with the Countess complaining that she needs money (in a sort of meta-moment, she points out that the supposedly elegant tableware is actually plastic).
Ultimately, we enjoyed Bite: Season’s Bleedings even more than the original Bite, which built to a conclusion that felt anticlimactic. Befitting the holiday season, the sequel wraps up its story with a lovely bow, delivering a happy ending to the characters and a delightful Christmas present to the audience.
Bite: Season's Bleedings Rating
Bite: Season’s Bleedings is a delightfully wicked Christmas present for audiences eager to dine with the undead.
Bite: Season’s Bleedings continues at the Count’s Den with performances at 7:30pm & 9:30pm on Fridays & Saturdays through December 18. Tickets are $75, including cocktails and dinner. The address is 1039 S Olive Street in Los Angeles. Guests are invited to participate in an optional secret Santa ceremony in each show, contributing a gift valued $10 or less. Get more information at immersiveartcollective.org.
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