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Hollywood Fringe Review: Bloodsuckers (A Survival Guide)

Bloodsuckers (A Survival Guide) review
Sue Gisser as Izzy

Well, this sounds like fun: a TED talk from a vampire teaching new recruits what they need to know about their undead lifestyle if the expect to survive and thrive. The amusing conceit of Bloodsuckers (A Survival Guide) is that we are all – or almost all – vampires; there may be a few fence-post sitters and even some enemies, but our engaging though somewhat flustered host, Izzy (Sue Gisser), stumbles on as best she can, spelling out the basics, debunking the myths, and taking questions from the curious audience.

Along the way, her attempt to stick to useful facts and information is undercut – partly by safety concerns (there may be vampire hunters waiting outside) but mostly by personal history that keeps bubbling to the surface, taking her on tangents that, while interesting, are not necessarily the essential survival skills promised in the title.

The distractions are supposed to be part of the fun, and Izzy’s incompetence is played for comic effect, but after a while, the awkward pauses, the hemming and hawing, the dropped white board erasers and markers, and the repetitive vamping (pun intended – it’s used in the play) create a portrait a lecturer short on substance and desperate to fill the allotted time.

It hard helps that Izzy’s back story is not that interesting. She was attacked (essentially raped) by an aggressive male vampire back in the 1940s, but the ensuing decades have brought her little if any wisdom regarding her situation: she still seems hung up on the guy, who is lingering nearby, invisibly and inaudible, apparently asking questions to which she responds, creating yet another series of awkward pauses in the lecture.

Things pick up from time to time when Izzy focuses on her topic, especially when responding to feedback from the audience regarding vampire lore, but overall Bloodsuckers (A Survival Guide) feels like being trapped in a lecture given by a character unqualified to do the job.

Bloodsuckers: A Survival Guide rating

Rating Scale

1 – Avoid
2 – Not all bad
3 – Recommended
4 – Highly Recommended
5 – Must See

Bloodsuckers (A Survival Guide) reviewBloodsuckers: A Survival Guide has a good premise for an interactive play, casting the audience as newly turned vampires, receiving how-to advice about their new lifestyle. Unfortunately, the result is like being stuck in a lecture with an ill-prepared presenter, awkwardly riffing and vamping (pun intended – it is used repeatedly in the show) in a desperate attempt to fill her allotted time.

Cast & Crew:

  • Written by Michael Perlmutter
  • Directed by Ann Noble
  • Starring Sue Gisser as Izzy


50 mins, recommended for ages 16+

Bloodsuckers (A Survival Guide) is part of a series of one-act plays, called Theatre Ghosts, intended to be performed after hours in theatres set up for other productions. At the Hollywood Fringe Fest, it is running with Haunting Rights, another of the Theatre Ghost plays. Bloodsuckers gives its final performance on June 21 at 11pm in  the Broadwater Theatre in Hollywood, 6322 Santa Monica Blvd. More information here.


Steve Biodrowski, Administrator

A graduate of USC film school, Steve Biodrowski has worked as a film critic, journalist, and editor at Movieline, Premiere, Le Cinephage, The Dark Side., Cinefantastique magazine, Fandom.com, and Cinescape Online. He is currently Managing Editor of Cinefantastique Online and owner-operator of Hollywood Gothique.