Working for Mad About Horror certainly gets me around places that I never expected. Over the years I’ve met a lot of you Creeps at Horror conventions and attended openings of Scare Attractions around the country. Not to mention travelling around the globe to visit trade shows to search for new scary items to bring you.
However, imagine the excitement at the Lair when we received an email from a new London stage adaption, George A Romero’s ’Night of the Living Dead. LIVE!’.
As well as being a big Horror fan, I am a huge theatre buff, so being offered tickets to see such an iconic Horror movie played out on stage was a massive thrill.
So a friend and I headed over to The Pleasance Theatre with trepidation, waiting to be scared silly. Having never been to The Pleasance before I was struck by the atmosphere at the venue which also has a great bar and friendly, enthusiastic staff.
The seating is split into different areas; Splatter Zone 1 which is onstage seating, Splatter Zone 2 near the action, and Supposedly Safe Zones seated further away. We were seated in Splatter Zone 2, on the front row. Audience members seated onstage were provided with coveralls and Boy, did they need them!
We are immediately transported back to 1968 with an ingenious monochrome set and a radio announcement declaring America’s state of emergency.
The action starts immediately with the final scene being played out, before being transported back to the beginning of the story. There is much to recognise here, starting with the young brother and sister visiting a family grave. “They’re coming to get you, Barbara”!
Attention to detail is incredible and really good fun. All the performers are dressed in black, white and grey and even their make up gives them a grey pallor, meaning the whole production is played in black and white, a really nice touch.
Act One plays out much as we might expect, with added comedy. The creators of the show are clearly fans, not only of the film, but of the Horror genre itself. The creators have produced Horror movies before and that shows.
One of writers, Christopher Bond, also created ‘Evil Dead – The Musical’ (which is definitely ripe for a London debut if the producers are reading this!). As well as this they have a good pedigree in comedy which really helps with this love letter to the Horror genre.
As Act One closes you’d be forgiven for thinking that the evening was over, but far from it. With the cast having all met an untimely demise, we come back into the auditorium for Act Two which plays out a number of “what-if” scenarios.
In the show we see a disparate group of people coming together, with different thoughts and agendas, unable to achieve a common goal. Sound familiar? So, it is interesting that ‘Night of the Living Dead. LIVE!’ comes to London at a time when our country is in such turmoil.
Back in 1968, audiences had never seen the likes of this on screen. It’s violence, effects and political and social commentary. All of these messages are still so relevant to today’s audience, over 50 years later.
Fans of the film will chuckle along with the many references to the original. Even so, if people haven’t seen the original, Horror fans will still see all the familiar tropes that they are used to.
‘Night of the Living Dead. LIVE!’ has a very strong cast, they all inhabit their part(s), and are worked hard throughout the show. The performers are clearly enjoying themselves, and why wouldn’t they? They get to soak audience members in blood every night!
‘Night of the Living Dead. LIVE!’ is playing at The Pleasance Theatre, London on a limited run until 8th June so don’t hang around. Tickets are available online at www.pleasance.co.uk and priced at £15 – £40.