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February 20, 2017

hyenaszju_-postcardBurning Gods’ only know what, for laughter and art, Hyenas is a good representation of the wonderful insanity Zombie Joe’s is producing as they push creativity outside the black box.

Brandon Slezak and David Dickens are crafting some amazingly odd out of the box worlds on stage at Zombie Joe’s Underground, Hyenas had me tilting my brain sideways to see the world refracted through whatever dark prism Dickens and Slezak have been viewing the world through. Not only does this make for good theatre, it was quite fun pondering the weirdly intricate world presented through time jumps on stage. Though Dickens would caution it’s best not to ponder his world too deeply for your sanity.

hyenaszju_photo-2The dark tones of both story and set were an ever present weight, aided by a sound design which was full of depth and form. Between the atmosphere projected from the ensemble, the enveloping sound, and the velvety dark lighting, you’re left cocooned in this surreal mad house of a world. A mad house where the patients have taken over it seems. It’s quite the ride, I type grinning ear to ear remembering, this roller coaster through a laughing farce.

Hyenas An American Farce razorbacks through its surreal landscape, focusing your attention on each wonderfully twisted scene long enough for your psyche to draw in closer for a better view, only to pull the wheel hard right jolting your focus off its last center leaving you adrift ready to grasp onto the center of the next scene. Each scene leaves you craving further exploration while giving you just enough to drive the narrative forward.

hyenaszju_photo-5The pace is fast, and eager, ever building. An ever building, or ever changing pace needs consistent energy throughout the ensemble, or the delivery can become muddled, static on the line. Each part of Hyenas was executed well unto itself, but there was a lack of harmony in the energies of the players. It was a thoroughly enjoyable ride, but it could be even more captivating, and brilliantly mind numbing if there was coherence in the energy of the cast. A few ensemble scenes felt as lost as Martin (Ian Michaels) was supposed to feel on his wild journey. Ian drove forward those scenes, finding the thread and bringing the audience along on the journey.

Brandon Slezak is pushing the bounds of what has been tried at ZJU, Hyenas use of sound, light and props wove depth into the infinitely mutable stage at ZJU. To carve out the depth built up on stage; Brandon gives his chief tools, his ensemble, new claws, and clubs to beat a path for to pull the audience through. The use of motion on stage, overly exaggerated mannerisms, pulpy body effects for fight and kill scenes, it’s beautifully macabre and Zombie Joe’s at its most fun.


Hyenas An American Farce runs at Zombie Joe’s Underground, Fidays & Saturdays 8:30pm through February 25th

All Photos Credit: Zombie Joe’s Underground

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