Friday, October 19, 2012

Happy Medium Theatre Gets into the Halloween Holiday Mood with "The Revenants" at The Factory Theatre

I was not quite sure what to expect as I took my seat in the intimate confines of the Piano Factory's funky Factory Theatre.  I knew that the show had something to do with playwright Scott T. Barsotti's take on the coming Zombie Apocalypse.  I am familiar with the work of Happy Medium Theatre and of director, Mikey DiLoreto, so I knew there would be some surprises.  I was not disappointed.
The mood is set even  before the play opens with an atmospheric preview by one of the characters we will come to know as Outside Zombie.
I do not want to give away too much of the plot, but I will offer this summary from the website:
"The show focuses on two married couples barricaded in a basement during a violent uprising of the undead. As supplies run low and hopes dwindle, it is revealed that two of the spouses are infected and getting…hungry. Faced with the true meaning of commitment, husbands and wives must ask of each other: When does love die?"
As is almost always the case with Happy Medium Theatre productions, the acting was at a high level.  Tim Fairley as Gary and Audrey Lynn Sylvia as Karen play the two uninfected spouses who are watching over what remains of their respective undead spouses, chained to the basement wall.  These two characters, with one minor exception, care the weight of all of the play's dialogue.  William Schuller as Joe is/was Molly's husband and Lizette M. Morris as Molly  is/was Gary's wife.
As the two healthy survivors of numerous zombie attacks, Gary and Molly react in a variety of ways to the building crisis.  The inarticulate revenant spouses moan and hiss and bark and sporadically attack - presenting an ever-present backdrop to the action and dialogue between the two survivors.  It becomes clear as the play develops that both Gary and Molly feel that they married the wrong person - that they should have acknowledged their love for each other years ago.  But now it is too late - or is it?
It is at this philosophical level that the playwright shines.  He is really asking the question, "Who is really dead and who is really alive here?"  The zombies chained to the back wall stand as a metaphor for marriages that were neither fully alive or fully dead, and of lives lived in less than fulfilling ways.  At one point near the end of the play, Gary blurts out, "I think I am the most dead person in this room."  
I would have wished for the writing to be better at the dialogue level.  I found the string of unabating f-bombs between Gary and Molly to be both tiresome and unimaginative.
All  four of the main actors were believable and effective in their roles, with a special nod going to Schuller, who's Zombie Joe was haunting in its gaunt gaze and tormented affect. As the dramatic arc careened toward the climax, I found myself experiencing the telltale chills that accompany a well told horror tale.

There are two more opportunities to see the show -tonight and Saturday at 8:00

Directed by Mikey DiLoreto, and starring: Tim Fairley, Lizette Marie Morris, William Schuller, and Audrey Lynn Sylvia; with Deirdre Benson and Barbara DiGirolamo.
Performances October 11th — 20th, 2012 at the Factory Theatre 
791 Tremont Street, Boston, MA 02116
Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 8pm

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