Not many theater groups can count both Comic Con as a sponsor and the Ma-Yi Theater Company as an artistic partner, but then there aren’t a lot like Qui Nguyen’s Vampire Cowboys, where pop culture and theater artistry combine seamlessly and satisfyingly. The Cowboys’ latest offering, Nguyen’s Soul Samurai, takes us to a post-apocalyptic New York where the Xena-like Dewdrop (a “fierce” Maureen Sebastian), with the help of her goofball sidekick (a winning and hilarious Paco Tolson), has just avenged her lover’s murder. Now, the two intrepid heroes need to get from Coney Island to Manhattan, slashing and kickboxing their way through an angry gang of vampires.
The piece tweaks some obvious targets (Charlie’s Angels and any number of Bruce Lee films) and some not so obvious, like blaxploitation films—which are deliciously skewered by Dewdrop’s unlikely ally, Grandmaster Mack (Jon Hoche), portrayed as an Afro-sporting pimp replete with a striped burgundy fur coat. It’s smart and funny stuff that’s deftly supported in Robert Ross Parker’s sure-handed production, where Asian theater traditions are ably blended with Nguyen’s exhilarating fight choreography. David Valentine’s puppets and Nick Francone’s intentionally cheesy videos are, like the rest of the show, side-splittingly funny and slyly intelligent.