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Pulled into the shadows

June 7, 2014

HauntedWallsandApparitions@ZJU_CastPic1Zombie Joe’s Underground Theatre Group delves into the dark once more, pulling the audience into the shadows. Haunted Walls and Apparitions is the latest installment in Zombie Joe’s non linear audience interaction Plays. Speaking of audience interaction a word of caution to the wise, or a dare to the brave, you’re free to move around the theatre during the show. You see there is no seating, and the cast moves among the audience. If you’re lucky enough to be in the right place, the cast almost seems to chase you about the stage.

Haunted Walls is both linear and non linear at the same time. Each piece undergoes its own evolution, reaching a climax, then proceeds to blend into the next. You’ll see an ancient culture make and worship fire, as the prime protector from the darkness. You’ll see another culture caught up in what I found very reminiscent of Walpurgis Night from Fantasia. Pre humans shuffle onstage and gather to what appears to be a random point on the wall. The lights plunge, chanting begins. When the lights return, the pre-humans withdraw to reveal a demon, which holds sway over them like a puppet master. The Demon first tests their faith, and his powers. He employs frantic and violent gestures spinning them round and round in a hurricane of limbs. Eventually he singles one victim out for the entire tribe to consume.

In yet another evolutionary piece, something rises from the muck, and eventually takes on the form of raptors, flightless birds. They squawk, chirp, hiss, and begin to form a pecking order for mating, and cannibal consumption, resulting in only one raptor remaining.HauntedWallsandApparitions@ZJU_Pic3

From start to finish Haunted Walls and Apparitions has an organic flow. There is a tidal force drawing you from the shallows into the deep waters. Once out in the open you’re fully subjected to the whims of nature. That’s exactly what Haunted Walls is; it’s a force of nature on stage. The performance grows more powerful and unstoppable in front of you. Each piece starting small enough to draw you in, then when it’s too late the chaos begins.

Haunted Walls and Apparitions is modern performance art at its finest. The pieces flow with apparent lack of form, but there is an undercurrent. How else would each piece draw you further into the chaotic, dark and brooding world that is Zombie Joe’s Underground Theatre.

I can’t give away much more, for two reasons. One it would spoil your fun, and two, Haunted Walls and Apparitions is entirely subjective. Each piece can be seen by ten people, and be interpreted thirteen different ways. Depending on where you sat, and what philosophies you hold true to while walking through life.

I will say this, sit, or stand as close to the center of the Theatre as possible. It’s quite fun to be chased by pre-humans, or cringe away from the unknown. Watch the audience as well as the performance while you’re at it. If you look closely there is something primal in the audience as well. When the show begins there is a brief sound, and a curtain rustles. Though it is impossible for everyone to see, the entire audience shifts towards stage left, as if one subconscious command were given. From this moment on, your neighbor is as much a part of the show as the cast. Their reactions will enhance your experience. Seeing your neighbor jump at something you laugh at is part of what makes Haunted Walls such a great show. Seeing a show like Haunted Walls and Apparitions push the boundaries, and to do so quite well makes for a great night of theatre.

HauntedWallsandApparitions@ZJU_CastPic3

Haunted Walls and Apparitions Directed by Zombie Joe, shows Saturday Nights in North Hollywood at 11pm through June 28th.

For more information please visit www.zombiejoes.com

All photo credit: Zombie Joe

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