Not all Fringe shows happen at the main or studio spaces of the big three (Tarragon, Muraille, Factory); some are in school basements (like Eve Ensler’s A Memory, A Monologue, A Rant and a Prayer), others are in smaller theatres (like the Robert Gill or Glen Morris), and others take place in bars. The Cameron has the Christian Republic Fundraiser in Dayton Tennessee, Paupers has Opera on the Rocks, and Bread and Circus has The Zombie Dialogues. Written by Jim Annan, Sean Browning, and Brian Froud, The Zombie Dialogues is a silly romp that is clearly taking its cue from its more established un-dead cousin, Evil Dead: The Musical.
Set in 1958, it begins with a hilarious video montage (so good it makes you wonder why video isn’t more fully integrated into the show), although you could argue the show really begins in true Fringe fashion the minute you walk into the cramped quarters of Bread and Circus, where you’re welcomed by actors already in-character procuring “zombie shots” and swaying to retro hits like “Monster Mash” and “Don’t Be Cruel.” With a plot involving a science experiment gone wrong, a marriage meltdown, and the end of humanity as we know it, the piece is still finding its way in terms of pacing and song material. And though it’s 1958, anachronisms abound. Much material lends itself to improvisation, as befits a cast who are mostly all Second City alumni. An interior dialogue of the “main” zombie, prerecorded and acted onstage by co-creator Browning, is witty, but still needs work in terms of timing it to live-action sequences. Rebecca Dreiling, as the mad scientist’s wife, has a strong singing voice that needs use past obvious dirty ditties. Still, the final sing-along number, “I Can Live Without a Tongue (But Not Without You),” is a symbol of the good promise inherent within the material. There are your standard bloody zombie chomping moments, and although they’re low-tech, they work. George Romero would be proud.
Other good bets for tonight’s Fringe-ifying include Death to Dating by R.J. Downes and Kathryn Malek, detailing the lengths one woman will go to to find the perfect relationship. Catch it at the Factory Theatre Mainspace at 5 p.m. In case you’re suffering from summer hockey withdrawal, fear not: Hockey: The Musical is here. Based on the book by Rick Wilson and Justin DeMarco, with music and lyrics by Wilson, it details the changing relationships between teammates on and off the ice. Our national sport never sounded so sweet. It’s on at the Helen Gardiner Phelan Playhouse at 8:15 p.m.
Photo by Catherine Kustanczy