Qui Nguyen’s “Soul Samurai”, now in its Chicago premiere by the multimedia-focused InFusion theatre company, is about a righteous female samurai warrior fighting vampires in a post-apocalyptic New York City.
It really shouldn’t be necessary to write more words but they tell me I have to.
Dewdrop (Christine Lin) begins as a shy bookish student at a small eastern college, one of the last bastions of civilization in a rapidly collapsing world. Dewdrop falls in love with angry young lesbian activist Sally December (Amy Dellagiarino)
When Sally is murdered by a gang called the “Longtooth” (who rise from the dead and kill people by drinking all of their blood and only come out at night but the script doesn’t use the word “vampire” because it’s extra cool to not use the word “vampire”) Dewdrop begins her training regimen under the tutelage of shogun Master Leroy. (Evan Lee) On completion of her training, the newly badassidized Dewdrop ventures to Longtooth territory to fight the vicious Boss 2K (Jon McGillberry) her lover’s killer. She is accompanied only by her loyal friend, Cert, (Steve Thomas) a hip hop-talking urchin.
If all this sounds remarkably silly, of course it is. But it is also gloriously silly. InFusion’s multimedia work enhances the action by bringing in DJ Jesse Livingston to spin from start to finish, and a video screen that provides sound and visual effects, like lots of blood. The play draws on very specific action movie and comic book tropes but like other master aggregators, Quentin Tarantino, or Chicago’s own House Theatre at their best, it manages to distinguish itself.
The critical rap on this show will no doubt be that its all flashy stage effects with no humanity. They will be wrong. “Soul Samurai” has a dark fairy tale magic all its own, and has genuine heart to pump with its adrenaline.