Die Zombie Die
Although I initially rolled my eyes upon first reading the description of this show, I was pleasantly surprised with what I saw here.
Die Zombie Die is a comic treatment of the deluge in recent years of zombie-themed everything. The main plot is an film-noiresque whodunit set in an alternative version of the 1950s where zombies have had their uprising and have since made peace with and settled into human society. In between scenes vignettes that serve as advertisements that someone might encounter in such a world break up the action.
The main star of this piece is director Stewart Matthews, who took a play that could have absolutely dreadful and turned it into such a pleasing production. The aspects of this script that could have bogged down the show so much – several scenes contain old-fashioned vaudeville-type comedy routines, as well as a chorus of zombies – become its chief strengths. The zombie chorus in particular is deftly handled, as each member has a clear zombie persona and walk that is doubtlessly the work of much rehearsal. Besides this, the chorus also serves as the set (standing in lines to mimic walls) and the musical accompaniment, providing stereotypical ominous riffs to certain lines.
The individual actors all fare well for the most part. David Benedict Brown is praiseworthy for his handling of three characters that are all distinct despite all being fairly dumb. Ray Besharah as hardboiled detective Zane Slade and Allison Harris as the literal femme fatale that brings him his case both admirably portray their archetypal roles. Diana Franz as retired zombie-killer Zelda is somewhat over-the-top with her role, but this isn’t really a show about subtlety.
If you’re a bit sceptical about a zombie vaudeville whodunit you should check it out, because it’s much better than it sounds.
Written by Richard Hemphill
Directed by Stewart Matthews
Performed by Ray Besharah, David Benedict Brown, Allison Harris, Diana Franz, and the voice of R. Jordan Hancey
Chorus Performed By Candice Lidstone, Kristen Saar, Sebastian Samur, Andrew R. Henry, Ella Bangs, Ellen Manchee, Jeremy Piamonte, Kevin Anderson, Michelle Stewart, Tegan Sulis, Tifanni Kenny, and Zoe Towne