I believe this play's original script (by Lori Allen Ohm, uncredited in the program) is supposed to have been based on 1968 and 1990 movies of the same name, although as I’ve not seen either one, I can’t say how faithful the adaptation is. The premise is a simple one; radiation from a returned Venus probe animates the dead world-wide, who become flesh-eating zombies. The first to succumb during a visit to a cemetery is Johnny (Daniel Sukup, who also doubled as a reporter), causing his sister Barbara (Lauren Keck) to flee to a nearby farmhouse and enter a shock-induced, unresponsive state. In the home already is Ben (D Conrad Burk). Hiding in the home’s cellar is a family (Grant Neimeyer, Tina Risse, Jamie Hartman, Kelsey Raidt) whose daughter was previously attacked and is already heading toward her own zombiness.
Over the play’s 55 minutes (no intermission), the action becomes quickly repetitive: attempt at barricading, inevitable attack, update on scale of global apocalypse, discord over what to do, stupid decision leading to death, screams, and outside, the zombies with their endless shuffling, flesh eating, moaning, and scrabbling to kill. As a pre-halloween offering, it’s more than appropriate for those wishing something literally and creatively mindless, WITH ZOMBIES!
Director Colleen Forrest had limited possibilities as to staging, but made an interesting decision to put half of the audience right in the middle of the action. Making the house “walls” transparent, allowed constant viewing of the zombies shambling around the home. Unfortunately, the director was forced to stage the play’s “cellar” location on a platform higher than the floor-level set, so that was extremely confusing for a while. She cautioned before the show about the possible spritzing of “blood” but, from what I could see, the audience remained unsoiled.
For an opening night offering, the lines, acting, and action were rough, but hopefully that will smooth out for the remaining performances. The show ended with an extended dance of Michael Jackson’s title track to his “Thriller” album, which went on a tad too long.
For information on Marble Stage Theatre’s next theatrical season, catch their website at http://www.marblestage.org.