The Zombie State's tagline is 'Melbourne finds itself in the grip of the vengeful dead. Who will stand and fight?. Not wanting to give too much away, this is somewhat misleading and doesn't quite allude to what the play is really 'about'. For student theatre this is a big budget production, a high quality nightmare corridor with two plastic booths stage front form the set for most of the production, with many door ways providing ample opportunity for the cast to appear from in a disconcerting way.Technically the production is ambitious. When action is taking place in either of the booths the sound quality takes on a shrill, claustrophobic character. Some scenes also happen backstage with video cameras streaming footage onto two large screens at the front of the stage, an interesting and novel method that causes a few (apparent) technical problems with microphones malfunctioning causing sections of dialogue to be inaudible.

There is no real 'star' in the production, the cast including a Prime Minister called 'Kevin', his four secretaries (all dressed identically), a Dentist, a Doctor, a Nurse, a Teacher, a Cleaner / International Student, a Taxi driver and a bar tender. Locations include the Casino, a retail outlet, the 2021 big ideas conference, a nightclub and a pier. Are you starting to get the idea? Perhaps if I casually mention that the 'zombies' in question may not be quite what you initially expect (though they are 'traditionally' made up) and that the 'brains' they crave may not quite involve ripping off someone's skull.

It's a skeptical production, the humour veering wildly between being too subtle and nepotistic to being so starkly obvious a cringe may tremor on your face. It's a very contemporary and topical script, The program mentions that it's conception began around 2004/5, there must have been a certain amount of updating in recent months as unless the Fortune Teller character's powers were real some elements of the script calls upon events that have occurred very recently.

A bold and adventurous project and worth a visit, just don't expect a stage version of Night of the Living Dead, well, not the zombified kind anyway?

Published in Unpublished