A two-role play with a single, simple set, Joseph Wilde’s debut play Cuddles is an uncluttered and concise monster story. You have two sisters, Eve and Tabby. One is a 13-year-old vampire. The other is her captor. One loves Harry Potter and fairy tales. The other deals with the real world and wishes she didn’t have to.
Directed by Rebecca Atkinson-Lord and starring Carla Langley and Rendah Heywood, the original cast and crew from the play’s London tour in 2013, Cuddles runs at 59E59 theaters in New York City from June 3-28th.
If you’re a devotee of stories like Let the Right One In or The Girl With All the Gifts, this is a vampire tale of that lineage. The kind of story where monster and sympathy and agency all lie in unexpected directions, along a map that is revealed only in suspenseful and tantalizing increments.
Carla’s Eve is entrancing. “Endearing and terrifying in equal measure,” says one reviewer, and she was nominated in the 2013 Offies for Best Female Performance in the role. She has a pure naivete that in no way allows you to forget what she is, and visibly learns the limits of her childhood on stage in a manner that will break your heart.
Renda Heywood as Tabby is piercingly cruel in the way she cares for her sister, and delivers her lines and monologues with all the precision of a surgeon’s knife. She has all of the dark quips that help keep this play from turning too grim, even while being the darker character.
The 80-minute tale is meant to disturb and linger, and it absolutely does. You will likely leave it looking over your shoulder. That’s how you know it’s good.