BWW Review: NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD, LIVE! A Bit Too Dead
"They're coming to get you, Barbara!" Yes, you'll definitely hear the iconic line in Weasel Productions inaugural show, "Night of the Living Dead, LIVE!" Based on George A. Romero's classic zombie film, this parody has everything you'd expect including a delightfully monochrome feel. Unfortunately, the production from this fledgling company also suffers from pacing issues making it drag at times and thus lose its comedy edge.
The show as written by Christopher Bond, Dale Boyer, and Trevor Martin, covers the basic movie in Act One. The tale of a random group of strangers finding shelter in a farmhouse as the Zombie apocalypse hits. But then Act Two ventures into alternate histories and speculation on how these people might have survived. It's a premise rife with potential for humor and controlled chaos, when done right.
And that's where we ran into issues. The show, to be funny, should be fast paced and over the top. Yet some of the ensemble (Evan Christopher, Dominick Garatino, Tamaron Harrison, Eric Angus Jeffords, Talena Laine, Jason Sharp, Makenzie Smith, and Reed Viydo), many of whom play multiple roles throughout the evening, had trouble committing to the bit and keeping that pace going or, at times, even picking up their cues. I've often commented on my disdain for people who can't pick up their cues and who don't earn their pauses and this show was brimming with those moments. Director John Tyndall seemed more concerned with the look of the show than the flow and, for a parody, that can be the kiss of death (pardon the pun).
But, especially for a new company, the show does have the look it needs. The multilevel set from Chris Stanley works beautifully, although the transitions to locales other than the house weighed down the pace as well. And the black and white make-up from Cat Pierce brought a wonderful level of whimsey to this parody of a black and white movie.
The ensemble cast does have its moments. Laine was hilarious, especially as she was working through which woman she was playing at which time. Viydo too was fun to watch and the two of them were the best at keeping the pace of the group going as much as they could. Sharp, who had the unenviable task of having to restart each scenario with the same scene, kept each one fresh and alive. And Smith and Jeffords unfortunately had too little to do as Jeffords is "taken" early on and Smith is catatonic for large portions. But when they were there they shone. And kudos to Garatino who played most of the zombies including one confused zombie which resulted in zombie comedy gold.
But on the whole the cast wasn't together and when combined with some egregious pauses from Harrison and Christopher, the energy and comedy of the moments just fall dead on the floor like an un-reanimated corpse. Hopefully as the run goes on, they'll be able to tighten this up as it could be killer (pun intended this time) but as it stood, or wobbled, last night, with my three-letter rating system, I'd have to give it a "just watched so many wasted jokes fly by" MEH. The production could still turn into something great but in its current state, it's just so much missed potential.
"Night of the Living Dead, LIVE!" from Weasel Productions, performs at the Slate Theatre through November 3rd. For tickets or information visit them online at www.weaselpro.com.