According to Lincoln Center's new LCT3 project at its slogan, it takes "New Audiences for New Artists." It also takes new critics, hence the establishment of Theater Talk's New Theater Corps in 2005, a way for up-and-coming theater writers and eager new theatergoers to get exposure to the ever-growing theater scene in New York City. Writers for the New Theater Corps are given the opportunity to immerse themselves in the off-off and off-Broadway theater scene, learning and giving back high-quality reviews at the same time. Driven by a passion and love of the arts, the New Theater Corps aims to identify, support, and grow the arts community, one show and one person at a time.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Brew of the Dead

The jovial energy and rough yet polished performances of the ensemble in Brew of the Dead makes the production seem as if it's been poured straight from the tap, though it's clearly gotten a good oast-like rehearsal process under Justin Plowman's direction. Though the simple "flee zombies and drink beer" plot isn't far from the cheap "drinkability" humor of a Bud Lite commercial, the pun-heavy result ends up resembling a Guinness: dark, frothy, and practically a meal in a can.

Reviewed by Aaron Riccio
[See also: Adrienne Urbanski's review.]

In recent years, some zombie movies have evolved beyond the simplistic shock and awe of their stumbling forefathers. Danny Boyle's 28 Days Later, for instance, points to humanity as the real monster in any horror film, and Romero's ... of the Dead series has grown as increasingly political as it has action-packed. As one may guess from the title of Patrick Storck's Naked Gun-like spoof, Brew of the Dead, this play has no interest in drawing such heady metaphors: it just wants to see the glistening head on a fresh pour of beer, zombies be damned. (A brewery's fortified, right?)

That fixed obsession, shared by far less talented frat boys around the world, is part of the raging success of this Dysfunctional Theatre Company show. The frenzied stupor of the fast-paced, almost drunken-fist action (well directed by Justin Plowman) allows the cast to eat and regurgitate pop-culture brains, from the obvious Shaun of the Dead gameplan to the Evil Dead homage, even extending to the crowbar from the Half-Life video game series and a mood-setting series of video interludes that range from Iron Maiden's Number of the Beast to an "advertisement" for Mentos, the Fleshmaker.

As for the cast, there hasn't been a group this talented at high-octane punning since Evil Dead: The Musical. (When asked to come up with the best way to kill the living dead, Craig suggests that they "insert Tab A into zom-B.") Then again, they need to be as swift with their wits as with their feet, considering the absent plot: Matt, Derek, Kim, Craig, and Nexus are trying to survive the zombie apocalypse by hiding in a brewery, and when one of them gets bitten, they decide to test an impromptu cure--drink the virus into submission. Peter Schuyler, the rowdiest of the bunch, is the comic gem of the rough bunch--"Hey, if I turn into a zombie, can you get me to fight a shark? I got five bucks on the shark."--but he's well matched by Amy Beth Sherman's Trinity-like "Nexus," a bad-ass comic, and Eric Chase's goofy charm as Matt. Rounding out the cast are the more serious Tom O'Connor and straightwoman Amy Overman: both are fine, but the play is built for the muscular, over-the-top laughs that their characters cannot provide.

Brew of the Dead feels like it's been poured straight from the tap, but with the benefit of a good oast-like rehearsal process. It goes far beyond the simple "drinkability" of Bud Lite commercials and ends up like more of a Guinness: dark, frothy, and practically a meal in a can.

Brew of the Dead (55min., no intermission)
Under St. Marks (94 St. Mark's Place)
Tickets (212-868-4444): $15.00
Performances: 10/11, 10/18, 10/25, 11/1 @ 10:30

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