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Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Review- Urban Death (Zombie Joe's Underground Theatre Group)

The Fab Marquee review by Dianna Martin.

This reviewer had the pleasure of seeing two of her favorite mediums cross paths in the dark shadows of The Players Theatre the other night: Horror and Live Theatre. In all the years I have been going to productions and performance art shows I don't think I have ever had such joy in sitting and cringing delightfully in fear of what horrors awaited me, the live audience member, ever to this extent.

photo credit: Zombie Joe
Zombie Joe's Underground Theatre Group's Urban Death is macabre theatre at its best, and although the award-winning group has its roots in California, they have come to New York City - where the phrase "Urban Death" is quite appropriate far too often - to share a series of over 30 tableaus that range from strangely unsettling to completely horrific. Set to an eerie and amazing original score by Christopher Reiner, audience members spend part of their time throughout the show in the dark, waiting in suspense for the next scene to appear, not knowing where it will be - or how close.

The vignettes are sometimes only a few seconds long, but allow enough time for the audience to experience conflicting feelings and emotions that could include laughter, disgust, sadness, and terror. One of my favorites is a piece called Angry Dead Girlfriend, which really makes one think twice about the feeling of goosebumps they get when they "feel like they are being watched."

Jana Wimer, Marcella Reya, Denise Devin, Angella Schnaible and Jonica Patella
photo credit: Zombie Joe
All of the actors (who are a terrific ensemble group) throw themselves wholeheartedly (no pun intended) into their work - they take themselves seriously; bringing in the brilliance of Artaud and Brecht, making their physicality, gestures, expressions, and even their make-up and costumes almost an entity in and of themselves.

There is a hazy grey area where sexuality, madness, gore, and fear all meet, mingle, and then separate again; Urban Death takes you to that place, if you will, and leaves you there for an hour with nothing but the dreadful joy of the experience and the hope that you will be allowed to leave in one piece. I applaud the cast - and especially director Zombie Joe - for the journey...and allowing us to do so.

Zombie Joe's Underground Theatre Group presents
Urban Death
Closing November 22, 2008 (Thu-Sat @11pm)
The Players Theatre

Tickets are $30.00 (discounts available, check, call Theatermania at 212-352-3101, or visit

The Players Theatre | 115 MacDougal Street | Manhattan.

1 comment:

Mark said...

This sounds FANTASTIC! I've been wanting to see a stage show that truly creeps the audience out while having fun. I haven't had that experience since seeing "The Monkey's Paw" done on stage some 28years ago! Thank you for your review.