A solo performance, Tokyo Vampire is presented as the predator's last confession before he commits suicide by exposing himself to the sun. Spinning tales of blood-thirst, friendships destroyed, and tragic romance, he guides his audience chronologically from his vampire birth to the impetus for his decision to do the one thing that can end his otherwise interminable life. Throughout the 45-minute monologue, Dwayne Lawler easily commands the stage. With the demeanor and diction of a classically trained actor, he suffuses the character with an Old World dignity befitting this archetypical gothic antihero. The juxtaposition of his dignified presence with the bestial words he delivers is effective and will no doubt be appreciated by those with a taste for horror.
Adding to Lawler's natural stage presence is the flowing black costume he conceived, which melds influences from the goth subculture, samurai tradition, and the world of the Visual Kei—a popular Japanese musical subculture comparable to glam rock. To complete the image, a single red overhead light highlights the performer.
Slightly jarring, however, is the contrast of the classical acting with the simplicity of the writing style. Lawler, also the writer and director of the piece, declaims deliberately and with ample dramatic pauses. While both of these techniques can help performers clarify florid and archaically worded texts to modern audiences, they occasionally feel belabored when paired with this author's contemporary writing style.
Despite this incongruity, the production succeeds by delivering the voyeuristic horror thrills that most fans of the macabre eagerly expect from a vampire's tale. The performance achieves this through old-fashioned storytelling and without the presence of the vampire's victims—or any blood, for that matter. That is a feat that a lesser performer could not hope to replicate.