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A Macabre Viewing

November 11, 2014

GraveDigger@ZJU_PostcardBestZombie Joe’s Underground Theatre gives an extended run to Halloween with GraveDigger, and it’s a welcome extension.

GraveDigger is a series of vignettes linked together by the ominous specter that is the Grave Digger. The Grave Digger is a mysterious phantom which haunts each piece. For the most part Grave Digger is a silent observer, however occasionally he holds the noose, or the blunt instrument of death. The sad souls playing out their death scenes, or participating in the death scenes of others seem to regard Grave Digger little. Almost as if death itself is a constant companion on our journey throughout life.

GRAVEDIGGER@ZJU_PHOTO_1As a collected body, pun intended, GraveDigger the Play shows slices of life, or rather death. The scenes range in their placement, from just before death, after death, or during the moment of death. Some even take on the appearance of a wake, or vigil held by those left behind.

The show opens, with a grim faced funeral attendant welcoming us, and inviting us to the wake, from there a ZJU cover of one of my favorite songs, and it was quite aptly chosen. “The Curse of the Hearse”, is all about what happens to you if you laugh as a hearse goes by. A little hint, it’s not called a curse because it tickles you. Well maybe it will tickle you, if shivers tickle your spine. This audio selection sets the tone for the evening. The chosen songs match the tone of each piece nicely. Theatre is more than just what you can see on stage. The right audio selection, from music to effects can draw you in; wrapping you in the death shroud of the reality you’re witnessing unfold before you.

If you’ve attended Zombie Joe’s Underground Theatre before, you’ve no doubt come across Urban Death. Another Play composed of vignettes about death. In many ways GraveDigger is similar to Urban Death, however it is a separate experience unto its own. While Urban Death deals with the varying forms death in the modern urban landscape can take. The shock and awe aspects of death as it were. GraveDigger deals with the introspective side of death, the idea that death is always with us. GraveDigger gives more time to each piece. This allows you to invest in the characters more fully before showing you their fates. You can’t help by take in everything presented before you, the slower pace gives you a chance to recognize yourself in the characters more readily, or at least sympathize with them.GRAVEDIGGER@ZJU_PHOTO_3

When we recognize ourselves in the characters on stage, or sympathize with them, we can’t help but feel their loss more closely. Do we identify with the witch being burned, or with those burning her. What do we think of the ancient cult chanting in the darkness, or the modern cultists as they come to terms with their final moments? Do we feel their trepidation and excitement?

In a piece composed of so many vignettes it would be easy to give away too much. Even naming each scene would give away vital information, information that you the audience should experience firsthand. If you know too much of the deaths going in, you’ll be occupied with preconceived notions. You’d be too occupied to take in the plethora of emotions placed in front of you.

I can give you a little hint, a short list of my favorite vignettes. This isn’t a complete list, and they were all my favorite, these stood out the most to my macabre personality. You might recognize that many of the pieces have two Grave Diggers, the phantom that stalks each piece, as well as the incarnation of real grave diggers from history. Séance is one of my favorite scenes in the entire piece, the idea of giving one’s self over to spirits from the outside. Jeffrey Dahmer, stands out as a great piece, the innocent bystanders letting him get away with his dark deeds. The Salem Witch Hunt, and Black Dahlia both brought a morbid smile to my face. The play ends with probably my favorite scene of the night, due to content, as well as the power of the acting. I won’t tell you which scene wraps up our journey along side death. That’s a treat you’ll have to show up to see for yourself.


GraveDigger (by Bea Egeto) runs Friday and Saturday through November 22nd.

For more info please visit

All Photos Credit: Zombie Joe

From → Reviews

  1. Thank you so much for coming out to GRAVEDIGGER and much thanks for your thorough review. Much appreciated! 🙂

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