entertainment

Review | ‘Night of the Living Dead Live!’ at Pleasance, London: ‘Fast-paced and ingeniously staged’

George A. Romero’s horror classic is reimagined for the stage

2019-05-14

Words by Simon Button

It’s not as terrifying in the first half as it ought to be, nor as side-splitting in the lighter-hearted second act as it could be.

And the inclusion of a really catchy song-and-dance number at the end makes you wish they’d just done the whole thing as a musical.

Yet, this loose transference to the stage of George A. Romero’s 1968 zombie classic has a ramshackle appeal that ties in with the original, which was made on the cheap and was slyly funny as well as dread-inducingly scary.

It’s also ingeniously staged, with a black-and-grey colour palette that mirrors Romero’s black-and-white cinematography, spooky lighting and sound effects pitched to get the audience jumping and giggling at the same time.

Act one is all about a bunch of humans holed up in a farmhouse who are their own worst enemies as they bitch and bicker about the best way to stay alive while the zombie hoards outside are trying to get in and feast on their innards.

Act two ups the comedy as the scenario gets replayed from different angles. There’s at least one twist too many, but that closing musical number redeems everything nicely and - flitting between wannabe survivors and their living dead foes - the cast are game for anything.

Audience members can keep their distance in ‘Supposedly Safe Zones’ or don boiler suits and sit in the on-stage ‘Splatter Zones’.

The latter, promising the prospect of getting drenched when the gore starts flying, is a gimmick in a very gimmicky show but one that’s also as inventive and fast-paced as its walking dead are stupid and sluggish. 

Rating: 3*

Night Of The Living Dead Live! is at Pleasance, London, until June 8th. For great deals on tickets and shows click here.