Zombie Town: A Documentary Play
By Tim Bauer
Directed by Jim Helsinger
Theatre UCF, Orlando FL
1943 – Zombies introduced as a low budget metaphor for communism. 1959 – Zombies gave an excellent excuse for making out in a drive in. 1985 – With no need for motivation or character development Zombies become the go-to guys in the horror film revival. 2011 – Post modern Zombies become as ironic as tiny fedoras and dial cell phones and get produced by a Shakespeare Festival. It’s an arc, but a weak one.
Author Tim Bauer disassembles the Zombieverse trope by trope in the style of “The Laramie Project.” Dinky Harwood, Texas suffered through an attack of the undead, and the pain continues when a San Francisco Theatre Collective descends to document the events. As they interview the mayor and Toyota dealer, the local barkeep, an accountant and red neck rocker, we begin to see into the loneliness and desolation of small town living – few opportunities, little to do, but a unity in the face of disaster that cable TV fawns over. Done in ensemble style, it’s hard to pin actors to roles, but each stands distinct as an archetype with their own unique view to the killings. Rocker Guy isn’t too bright but was at ground zero with Slutty Girlfriend and Gets Killed First Girl. Stuffy Accountant is the brains of the defense, while Crooked Capitalist Mayor aims for a cover up but Conspiracy Nerd exposed him. That leaves an Ironic Commentator behind the bar, Local Lush in front of it and a whole ensemble of Angst Arty Types to tie it all together.
You’ll pick out favorites, and if you’re not a Zombie Fan (and my date repeated assured me she was not) you’ll still have a bundle of gruesome laughs. There is some fake blood and a few stray body parts, but most of this show is darkly intellectual and viciously ironic. Personally, I don’t think there’s much left to mine the vein of Zombies as scary, Zombies as metaphors are tired, and funny Zombies may be the only valid entertainment function those poor brainless corpses can prove for society. This show is running way later in the season than it should, but it beats Christmas Carol for entertainment value hands down.
For more information on Theatre UCF, visit http://www.theatre.ucf.edu