08 Fringe: “The Honeymoon Suite”

Undine Francesca and Mikelangelo of “The Honeymoon Suite”

At 9:00 on the Monday night of the 2008 Indianapolis Fringe Festival, I stayed at the Phoenix Theatre to see “The Honeymoon Suite.”  I hadn’t had a chance to read the Fringe website description for this show.  All I knew was that it was one of three shows from Australia this year.  I went simply because I wanted to support artists who had come so far to entertain me.

If you had pressed me to say before the show what I thought it would be like, I would have said Jackie Gleason and “The Honeymooners” TV show.

Oh, my goodness, was I wrong.

And oh, my goodness, was I delighted to be so wrong.

The performers in this show are vampires!

Or, well, they never actually say they are vampires.  Michelangelo says he was born from an egg and Undine Francesca says she used to be a mermaid.  Later in the festival I saw them sipping iced tea and sharing a laptop at the Henry’s on East coffee shop.  They hadn’t even tried to move their table away from the sun that was streaming in through the windows.

But they are deathly pale, they hint at having lived for hundreds of years, and they are irresistibly seductive as they whistle-talk-sing about the darkness of desire.  As I fell under their spell Monday night, for the first time in my life I understood why the foolish people in vampire novels say, “Yes!  Come on in!” to the clearly dangerous personages hovering outside their third-story windows.

These two go from hotel to hotel all over the world, always staying in the Honeymoon Suite, which has room for more than two, if you’re brave enough to join them.  Another first for me: seriously considering a three-way, even if it meant I might not see the sun rise.

They relish the vibrations of heartbreak and passion that linger on in those special rooms, even after the maids have come through to change the sheets.  Those vibrations lead them to create and share mesmerizing songs, poems, and stories.

Michelangelo plays guitar and sings creepy rock-and-roll with an Elvis-deep voice.  He flirts like Elvis, too.

But it’s just flirting.  When he and Undine Francesca kiss, it is clear from the kiss’ tenderness that they are still in love, even after all these centuries.

However, at least once in the show he howls musically in a voice filled with almost unbearable yearning.  This led me to revise my first assessment:  he is not a vampire, but a werewolf!

Undine Francesca, when she is not draped delicately over Michelangelo or ghoulishly singing or dancing in a jerky-sexy way that made me think of spiders, sits in the shadows and blows through a tube attached to a sort of keyboard in her lap.  Later she told me it is called a melodica.  However, because you can not see her clearly, it seems as if she has become something you would find in a Star Wars bar.

Whether Michelangelo and Undine Francesca are human or not, I loved the delicious, dangerous, gothic loveliness of their show.  It made me want to go back and re-read all of Anne Rice’s early vampire novels, and then to re-read all of Francesca Lia Block’s erotica.

The fact that they often made me laugh only made my infatuation with them more complete.

After the show, Undine Francesca was selling a CD with three of their songs for $3.  I bought one, and thrilled to “Fifty-Foot Woman” in my car.  (You can hear it, too, on their MySpace page.)  More than one person who had first seen this couple at the 2006 Indy Fringe told me to buy Michelangelo’s full CD, too.  People gushed about his chants.  However, the couple didn’t have any of that CD with them on Monday night, and when I saw them later, I didn’t have any cash.  Drat.

But maybe it’s for the best.  Who knows what I might do if I surrendered even more deeply to their influence?

Hope Baugh – www.IndyTheatreHabit.com

PS – I asked Undine Francesca about the lighting in their show.  It seemed more sophisticated than most Fringe shows.  She said it was actually much simpler than what they do in their home theatre in Australia because they had only had a couple of hours of prep time in this space (the Frank and Katrina Basile underground space at the Phoenix Theatre) before their first show here. 

However, she also said that they were able to do quite a bit here because of the skill of Dani Norberg, the technician who was on loan to the Fringe from the Phoenix staff.   I have always suspected that Dani, like Undine Francesca, could sing “Action is My Middle Name” and mean it.  You go, girls!

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