Brains are the food of love in this gleefully gory Shakespeare adaptation.
Review by Ellen Wernecke
What would Halloween be without zombies? The wild-eyed, off-balance creatures may drool blood over everything, but they’re just so cute—why, they’re practically human! The Impetuous Theater Group’s production of “12th Night of the Living Dead” could be read as a classically strained call back to the George Romero, social commentary model of zombie, but let’s call it what it is: a joyful and gross re-imagining of a comedy that has never quite been treated like this before.
The love in this Illyria is catching, bite to bite, from the twin passengers on a ship which is struck by a meteorite and wrecked. No one seems to notice the gurgling Viola (Lindsay Wolf), gnawing on a severed arm, doesn’t particularly resemble a boy when she joins the service of the Duke Orsino (Aaron Zook). They don’t even ask her to stand upright for her pains; instead, they pack her off, gleefully biting her way through the crowds, to woo Olivia (Shashanah Newman) at the tomb of her sister. Meanwhile, Sir Toby Belch (Timothy J. Cox) and Sir Andrew Aguecheek (Benjamin Ellis Fine), who in their drunkenness resemble slightly the zombies encircling them, enjoy taunting Malvolio (Tom Knutson) even as he himself slowly succumbs, despite his starched propriety, to a nasty little bite.
However clever, the original premise of “12th Night of the Living Dead” can’t be sustained long—zombies, after all, are not famous for their elegant soliloquies. Where Impetuous succeeds there is in letting the disgusting scenario play out to its inevitable conclusion. These characters don’t get Hamlet-style extended death scenes; they wander off and then return dope-eyed and moaning. Director John Hurley continually raises the stakes on the blood and guts (audience murmurs told of a front-row splatter zone, but no one was brave enough to test it), resisting the temptation to rewind the damage that was wrought when Viola and Sebastian washed up on shore. It’s completely sickening, but necessary and more than a little hilarious. The show is not for the squeamish, but the groundlings would have cheered.
Now playing at the Clemente Soto Velez Cultural Center
107 Suffolk Street
Tickets $18, brownpapertickets.com
For more information, visit the Impetuous Theatre Group website.
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