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Outside the Lines
There are a few ways to describe Nightmares, Zombie Joe’s Underground Theatre Group‘s 2014 season opener. A writing mass of living art, might just be the most inclusive description I can give this uniquely disturbing show.
The show features many regulars of Zombie Joe’s, each adding their own personal flare to the fare. From Donna Ibale’s coreography, to Corey Zicari’s unnerving, disturbingly ghoulish pressence. Even Roger Weiss’s commanding pressence, and economy of motion. They all add layers to this show. Unfortunately being a large ensamble piece I won’t be able to mention everyone, but they will be tagged to the side of this review. They all deserve much more praise than I can give them here.
Nightmares begins with a creepy curtain raiser. The house opens, and the audience is free to enter at their leisure. As you find a place to sit, or stand, painted face performs move silently through the Theatre. Only breaking their silence to loom over the audience and offer them an appetizer (some of the audience even sampled the fare). This is particularly creepy when two of them stare at you and speak in unison. The opener takes on the ambiance of an arch-feind’s dinner party. Eventually the servers glide out of the Theatre, leaving you to ponder what on earth is about to happen.
Once the stage is empty the lights go out, and you’re subjected to a Zombie Joe’s stable. Auditory Theatre. In a tiny black box Theatre, darker than dark, your senses begin to stretch beyond your person. It’s at this point, when the darkness feels palpable, that is when the sounds begin. First clicking and clacking, then unknown creepy crawlies, all crescendoing to something that I won’t ruin here. You’ll have to show up and hold your breath, to find out for yourself. Following the sound treatment, dead silence…
What follows is a series of jointed and disjointed peices. As the Various Nightmares flow across the stage, some start out peacefully, others cutting straight to the point. Still some involve multiple perspectives, one man’s nightmare is another’s secret fetish. One in particular follows the course of an EKG, the heart monitors you see when you visit someone in the hospital. Starting as one groups dream, then turning to their dread and another’s pleasure, changing still to dread and revenge, as the control ebbs and flows.
At times two Nightmares blend together, often making it hard to tell where one ends, and another begins. For the other more distinct Nightmares, our shared folklore guide us, helping us find the edges of this surreal madness. That is, the classics make an appearance, showing up to work naked, running but going nowhere, even pulling from Dante Alighieri’s work in a few places.
Nightmares touches on so many dark dreams, I would be hard pressed to describe them all. Aside from the classics, it is very much open to interpretation. My river of the dead, might be another’s endless conformity, a brutal murder, might be an escape from your nightmare. Each piece is intertwined with a feverish intensity. The choreographed dance numbers give way to unchoreographed chaos, flowing from still calm decisive movements to frantic, heart pounding, existential, disconnected uncertainty.
As I said before Nightmares is a writing mass of living art, art that will pull you in. This is colour outside the lines Theatre. It’s something new to Zombie Joes’s, an experiment in interactive Theatre. The audience if fully encouraged to come up on stage and wake around the performers (after the show, I heard several patrons saying they planned on returning to do just that.). At times the performers come out into the audience, and being alive, and unpredictable they might even bump into you once or twice. This only serves to add to the unpredictable nature of a nightmare. We are seeing through the veil into a living nightmare unique to Zombie Joe’s.
Nightmares is a unique experience, and whatever I say, your perceptions will be your own. What you will witness is largely based on your own life path. It’s a mirror into the dark corners of our psyche. No matter how hard we try to avoid them, they alwayse manage to come rushing at us in the dark like a derailed train, full of concussive sound.
Nightmares (Directed by Zombie Joe) runs Fridays and Saturdays at 11pm thorugh Febuary 1st.
For more information please visit www.zombiejoes.com
All Photos Credit: Zombie Joe
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