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Pulsating Truth Pressing Thoughts

June 4, 2017

BloodAlley3@ZJU_PostcardBestWhat purpose does horror serve in society, other than an endorphin and adrenalin thrill ride and maybe a good excuse to snuggle close to someone…

It informs; horror shocks the consciousness into wakefulness through violent terror induced understanding, voyeuristic to be sure, however the only way to show the darker truths folks strive to remain blind to.  The witch in the woods was simply to scare children off of the dangers of the wyld wood, Undines & cracken to warn of the dangers of the sea, the pied piper to avoid the sell song of the stranger… The Witch the horrors of coming into puberty as a woman in a world of men… Get Out the complex relations of how even those who appear to be allies can be more dangerous than the overt bigots…

ZJU’s  latest show takes that premise of informing, waking up through horror down twisted turns ever spiraling down human pathways alwayse there; the left turn down any street, road, way or Blood Alley that we choose to remain blind to. It’s hard to remain blind when it’s right in front of you though, that’s what Blood Alley does. An ever present thrum of life in front of you all the horrors to the left we ignore…

Ushered through the darkness guided through the nightmare of reality before you with an ever pressing pounding beat, Kevin Van Cott’s living score keeps your heart racing your breath caught in your throat, ever prepared for the continual undulating coup de grace from the pieces on stage. An organic beat ever present, pounding of quickened heart, chocked breath, a wave of living sound washing over you, keeping the torment of life going, unable to look away for the constant beat pressing you forward through countless weighted scenes.

BloodAlley3@ZJU_PHOTO-1The deep layers to Blood Alley kick off from the start, if you’re of a mind to see them. The journey opening with a cop, shepherding the narrative forward, whom pulls the audience into the dark of the Alley. How dark a journey when even a peace officer must turn away from his first blush with life. Things can only get more human and more darkly real from go tonight.

Be prepared for the loudest silence you’ve ever felt, figuratively and literally. A nearly dialogue free show, with a constant beat of drum and instrument, the scenes unfold leaving you with only your thoughts, your interpretations of what unfolds before you. The longer the pounding absence of word and form the louder your conscious grows, louder and louder still. Do you find catharsis seeing horrors you’ve lived through, does a scene jar you awake to realize just how isolating the constant push of life is, a beautifully sad & scared Nicole A. Craig stumbles through an underground clearly in distress yet the world ignores her as they do all others who suffer. A scene sadly juxtaposed with the ensemble opening in which the undulating mass of beautiful humanity gathered around Nicole wanting her entirely. The ever present loud silence hammers home the reality of this horror; we are disposable to the wrong folks…

The scariest part of Blood Alley isn’t the vividly displayed horrors, it’s the message the core that this is life, it’s real it’s raw, and people are the scariest monsters. This would all be without weight if it weren’t for the powerful ensemble at ZJU making beautiful art through a gruelingly intense performance. So many individuals stand out living pieces of a machine ever reaching to crescendo. Michelle Danyn for instance bringing horrifyingly beauty to death, in her portrayal of a corpse come alive, or showing the startling confusion of love’s control reversed, snuffed out. One pray we never need appear on news camera and say “no Jason Britt never once showed any manic signs…” so powerful his facial control able to bring up the darkest of masks, the hungriest of carnal wants, to the placid bliss of wasted life. (all compliments intended Jason you display emotion fucking powerfully)BloodAlley3@ZJU_PHOTO-4

There isn’t a scene wasted in Blood Alley where an individual doesn’t stand out supreme, from the opening with Elif Savas’ gorgeous voice rending the darkness apart; startling the audience with horrible beauty. If there isn’t an actress/actor at their isolated pinnacle than the entire ensemble becomes an organic beast raising the tide of emotion across all levels. A pulsating ensemble so human and so very charged with emotion & yes sex.

Some of it is subtle, some in your face like the preshow. Costuming and body control are very much a part of it, particularly for the isolated scenes, one or two presences on stage. Patrick Beckstead makes one fucking fine looking priest in a well cut suit, delicious enough to tempt even the most pious male attracted persons, and some female attracted as well. With the gothic goddess Shayne Easton covering the span of, in control to on the edge, femininity in an endless display of form becoming dresses. Jason meeting his force & control match in the sexy and “endowed” Yael Wallace portraying a beautiful transwoman and hungry transwoman… Sex is part of life, a powerful part of life, powerful in that to own and control such power one must own and control themselves.

That perhaps is the key to survival as presented in Blood Alley, control over self, a rising power from within. In all the horrors presented on stage, there are treads of hope, in the form of persevering strength. There are horrors around, and as seen in the underground not many will stop to help, so you have to tie those sheets together and escape.

Blood Alley is a powerful ride ready to sweep you away for any brave enough to venture to North Hollywood. For best experience I’d recommend arriving early and grabbing seats on house right, left of well you’ll see. That’s the one flaw in Blood Alley, it’s blocking, use of stage. While the stage set up portrays the living alley quite well, there are a few scenes which lose their effect for 30-45% of the audience if they sit in the wrong places. There are several powerful walking off scenes which start at the 50 or 55% mark preventing a sizable chunk of the audience from ever seeing the powerful expressions on performer’s faces. As well as using floor center instead of what appears to be the head of the stage to elevate important singular stationary scenes.

It’s hardly even a medium sized thing, and the affect of an alley worth adjustment, but Blood Alley is a show that deserves a chance for the weight of its powerful imagery to take full effect. You’ll want to see as much of this show as possible and there are vantage points which can leave you out of that one on one intimacy between performer and viewer. Particularly for one or two powerful scenes.

If you’ve made it through my ramblings, go see Blood Alley, there is only one weekend left and it’s the best show to open up the summer heat in my opinion.


Blood Alley (Directed by Zombie Joe) runs through June 10th at Zombie Joe’s Underground Theatre in North Hollywood.

For more info visit:

All Photo Credit: ZJU

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