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The ParaAbnormals an hauntingly good time

October 1, 2012

The ParaAbnormals is a thoroughly frightful and comedic play.  Made even more entertaining by the intimate nature of Zombie Joe’s Underground Theater.  The story follows the misadventures of a newly formed Ghost Hunting team.  Their misadventures while tragic for the team serve as an entertaining counter balance to the fear the audience feels.

The play starts out in a nursery where the toys begin to move on their own.  The lights go out! and the scene progresses to our not so intrepid heroes in the middle of their first professional Ghost Hunting investigation.  The investigation starts out a total disaster and you start to think those Ghost Hunting TV shows would be far more entertaining if they were similar to this live investigation happening before you.  You really feel like you’re watching a Ghost Hunting investigation go terribly pear shaped as in no ghosts at all.  Suddenly in a 180 it goes pear shaped in the other direction!  Chuck who serves as the teams Shaggy (ala Shaggy and Scooby Doo), is assaulted by a real ghost that the audience can see but team is completely oblivious to.

Shortly after their first investigation, and showing up after subsequent investigations you meet a new and perplexing character.  Chai Tea, comes off as your generic snake oil saleswoman gypsy.  As soon as she is alone with the spirits however you start to realize there is more to her than just flem flam and snake oil.  What’s worse?  She has developed a grudge against our heroes.  What does she have in store for heroes?  You’ll have to see The ParaAbnormals to find out.

Cut to our heroes, after a particularly difficult investigation.  As it turns out Chuck is an excellent medium and has become possessed by a ghost from one of their previous investigations.  Jill sees this as an opportunity for the team while Stan fears for their friend’s safety.  This brings the personal aspect of the story to a head which until now has been a touch stone for the comedy the audience enjoys and the turmoil the characters go through.

From here I’ll have to leave you guessing what happens as I don’t want to spoil the fun of experiencing this play for yourself.

If I had to find fault with any aspects of the play there would be one minor and one major issue.  Zombie Joe’s Underground Theater is one of my favorite settings for live performance art due to the intimate nature of the Theater.  If used correctly it allows you to become fully enveloped into the story and forget your body even exists.  This can also be a hindrance if used incorrectly however.  Lauren Parkinson is brilliant in her role as Chai Tea, she plays a very convincing gypsy.  She does however have a tendency to alwayse play to Stage Right, otherwise known as the audiences left.  She spends so much time facing the left I felt like her back was too me the entire time.  I felt left out of the two way interaction between performer and audience member.  The other small problem I had occurred in the frantic pacing of the emotional scenes.  The speed was needed to convey the stress of the situations, unfortunately Tyler McAuliffe who plays Stan kept becoming tongue tied and having to go back and repeat his lines.  These two issues aside both Lauren and Tyler are excellent in their roles and each add a stage presence that helps move the play towards its climax.

There are several things The ParaAbnormals does really well.  The use of the intimate setting in the story telling is superb.  There is something genuinely creepy about being five feet away from a child’s toy and seeing it move on its own.  Seeing the furniture shake, and feeling the walls vibrate; as the supernatural unfolds is thrilling and fully immerses you into the experience.  You really think you are watching a Ghost Hunting investigation live and in person.  The Director Sebastian Munoz makes full use of the nature of Zombie Joe’s, and the pitch black that such a setting can produce.  Throwing the audience into darkness and surrounding us with a cacophony of paranormal creaks, shrieks, moans, groans and screams of unknown origin that reverberate through your body truly set your imagination spinning and what it comes up with can’t be good.

If you love the paranormal, and being scared.  Or if you just love seeing a good play.  I highly recommend seeing ParaAbnormals which runs through October 20, 2012 Saturday nights at 11pm.

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