Wednesday, 13 September 2017

Anno Zombie, Sept 7, 2017 **

Written by Brigitte Burton, by Baggage Productions 
At Chapel off Chapel, until Sept 16, 2017 
Reviewer: Kate Herbert 
Stars: **
Review also published in Herald Sun Arts in print only, I believe. KH

Dan Walls, Lauren Bailey, Glenn van Oosterom, Taylor Smith-Morvell, Tiffany Davis, Kelly Nash, Bruce Langdon. Seated-Matthew Dorning_pic by Michael Foxington

Anno Zombie resembles the cult, zombie-horror series, The Walking Dead, but with added jokes and a backing track by Wham!

After the zombie apocalypse in Melbourne (don’t panic, people, it’s fictional), seven incompatible humans take refuge in David Jones’ city store where they live on Food Hall products and dress in designer gear.

The play, directed by Natasha Broadstock, is billed as a ‘zom-com’, and Bridgette Burton’s premise has promise as a quirky monster-comedy-romance that could potentially follow the style of The Rocky Horror Show and Little Shop of Horrors.

There are certainly some laughs during the 100 minutes, with many generated by the effusively camp 17-year old, Lee (Taylor Smith-Morvell), who has a penchant for Wham! tunes and garish outfits from the men’s clothing department – and the women’s.

More laughs come courtesy of Vera (Kelly Nash) and Freddie (Bruce Langdon), the well-heeled couple with affected accents, who choose to pretend that level five is Brighton.

The remaining comic characters include Harl (Glenn van Oosterom), the hipster poser with his beard, man-bun and ethically sourced coffee, and Lizzie (Tiffany Davis), the glamorous but shallow personal shopper with whom Harl hope to repopulate the planet.

Dan Walls does plenty of comical commando rolls as Ray, the former loans broker who’s found his mojo as a gun-totin’ zombie killer, while his wife, Philly (Lauren Bailey), is a guilt-ridden geneticist, and everyone avoids the drooling, brain-chomping zombie, ‘The Undude’ (Matthew Dorning).

Despite its laughs and light-hearted goofiness, the production is shambolic, the script too long with repetitive dialogue, the acting uneven, the multi-level set (Alice Bishop) awkward and noisy underfoot, while scene transitions are patchy.

This production might benefit from some savage editing and tightening of the staging but, in its present form, it relies too heavily on predictable gags and nods to the horror genre.

By Kate Herbert

 Cast: Lauren Bailey, Tiffany Davis, Matthew Dorning, Bruce Langdon, Kelly Nash, Taylor Smith-Morvell, Glenn van Oosterom & Dan Walls
Written by Bridgette Burton
Directed by Natasha Broadstock
Set Design: Alice Bishop
Lighting Design: Matthew Barber
Sound Design: Bartholomew Heeren
Special FX Make-Up: Ali Rae
Costume Design: Romy Sweetnam

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