Friday, 16 March 2012
Zombatland, Suitcase Royale, March 14, 2012 ***
By Suitcase Royale
Arts House, North Melbourne Town Hall, March 14 to 18, 2012
Reviewer: Kate Herbert on March 14, 2012
ZOMBATLAND BY SUITCASE ROYALE is like a crazy combination of B-Grade, rogue animal movie, Aussie yarn spinning, country ballads and absurd comedy.
The company calls their style Junkyard Theatre that is reflected in their ingenious stage landscape – a caravan park in the Australian Outback – constructed from roadside junk.
Local, placid wombats become murderous Zombats (Zombie Wombats) and terrorise the remaining three residents of the Blue Lagoon Caravan Park.
Their original, live music is mostly modern country folk that echoes American cowboy balladry and incorporates drums, guitar and banjo and double bass with the occasional electric guitar interlude.
Their oafish, Aussie caricatures, broad comedy, cheesy puns and intentionally clumsy style and form provide some genuinely hilarious moments,
However, the show looks a lot like a university revue sketch or even a PG-rated children’s show, and the style and comedy lose some impact after 30 minutes.
Glen Walton is particularly funny as the plump, gung-ho Stranger who kills Zombats with his homemade crumpet gun. He is also a treat wearing a bloodstained, furry suit as the bolshy, head Zombat, Chumba Wumba. Think Humphrey B Bear with attitude - and a thirst for blood.
Miles O'Neil, the guitarist, is suitably laconic as the cowardly Mayor Grogan and Joseph O'Farrell, the drummer, is the hysterical and wiry cricketer, Darren.
The show is riddled with Dad jokes, bad puns and droll references to the intentionally shabby theatricality of the show. The crowd roars as a lamp falls from the lighting grid and again when a character points out the fake, horror movie soundtrack, saying ironically, “I’m hearing some pretty ominous double bass out there.”
The group is like travelling minstrels who pick up rubbish on the road, gaffer tape it together to make a set then string a story and some songs together. It is shabby but fun.