Bloody Brilliant: Alley Theatre’s Dracula

As luck would so have it, my brother being a University of Houston student managed to get ourselves two free tickets to opening night of Dracula, The Original Vampire Play, from which the two of us have just returned. Let me tell you, it’s definitely an experience worth going to Alley’s temporary location at University of Houston’s main campus to watch.

The three-act show, divided by two twelve-minute intermissions, was a delightful take on the old story of Dracula and the search for a cure to sweet, innocent Lucy’s peculiar sickness. The show was campier than expected, deriving laughs from the audience at terribly peculiar moments (there was more than one instance of the poor maid being scared out of her wits that just made the audience laugh instead of feel any fear) though I think it added to the charm.

The sets, derived from Edward Gorey’s work, were absolutely fantastic. Three in all, with huge vaulted ceilings and beautifully monochromatic props that melded into the scene perfectly, truly set the mood for the piece. The amount of detailing in the patterns, I found, was astounding. Costuming did equally well, the color scheme fitting so perfectly that the actors themselves almost seemed to fade away into grey scale.

My, and many audience members’, favorite role was likely Jeremy Webb’s Renfield. I’ve always been fond of the character myself, but the absolute torment, the emotional roller coaster of this performance was astounding. The man is an acrobat as well, I must say, flipping himself around like the madman he was many times throughout the show, often to an explosion of laughter. I did find his odd habit of raising his hands awkwardly to the sky to talk to Dracula as if he were about to break into Thriller a bit of an unfortunate stylistic choice, but otherwise his performance was likely my favorite Renfield I’ve seen in any adaptation.

Dracula plays through November 2nd at University of Houston Theatre, and I highly encourage everyone to get a ticket.

Drinking Pita: Karbach Brewing’s Weisse Versa Wheat

Karbach’s delightfully punny names strike a chord with my disgusting since of humor, I have to say. I remember seeing Weisse Versa a while back while at the store with my dad, nearly breaking down in tears of laughter in the beer aisle while he rolled his eyes in disgust. Naturally, I had to get a can of that sweet, sweet wordplay on my lips.

Weisse Versa is certainly a fizzy beer, as I discovered upon opening a can that had been cold and still for several hours and promptly having the damn thing attempt to explode over my hand. Nonetheless, I soldiered on; a little foam never hurt anyone.

I’ve heard before from people that a Guinness is a meal because it’s just liquid bread. Lord, those people need to get their hands on a Weisse Versa. I swear, if there is a way to somehow turn a slice of pita into an alcoholic, carbonated fluid, the good folks at Karbach got that down. This hefewiezen tasted exactly like the whole-wheat pita I’d had with my hummus the night before, no small feat as I’m the sort of person who gets overly critical about small differences in flavor. This is certainly no downfall in my mind, as I love a good pita, but might be a tad confusing to someone not used to solids suddenly being liquids.

The beer advertises its spiced nature, but I have to admit, I couldn’t find myself picking up on the touch of coriander or the bright citrus peel they advertise. I have to say that’s a slight downfall to me, as I enjoy both flavors, but beyond somehow magically melding into breadiness, neither comes through. I’d probably be more likely to drink this regularly if they could up the spices just a tad, so that it brings another level to the brew.

If you’re anything like me, you’re reading through this and thinking, “Now JD. What about the alcohol.” Well, my drunk friends, don’t worry, our dear Houstonian brewery has got our backs. At 5.3% ABV, Weisse Versa is gifted in being not a sad, puny drink, but it certainly won’t knock you flat on your back for quite a number of cans. Pretty good option to replace your watered-down Bud at the next party, I’d say.