Ladies and gentlemen, I know you’ve been a bit worried, but at last…my butt has been fully restored. Yes. After sitting through countless half-assed productions, often scribbled out by established playwrights, at such venerable institutions as The Goodman Theatre and Steppenwolf –Be honest. How many times have you thought to yourself, “Now, why the fuck did they spend all that money to do…that?!?” – I have been posteriorly redefined by some good old fashioned, gnawingly eviscerating storefront theater.
Factory Theatre’s latest production is a horror comedy that goes by the name of Zombie Broads. The title is a reference to a book club featuring many of the show’s female characters, but it is also indicative of the fact that playwrights Corbette Pasko and Sara Sevigny have focused the mayhem here around a series of powerful and resourceful femmes. It’s a nice contrast to The Walking Dead, World War Z and other popular forms of undead entertainment that, granted, contain some awesome female characters, but are seemingly more focused on the male perspective in times of apocalyptic crisis.
Here, former cosplayers turned survivalists, Maxine and Marco, are bringing up Shelby, their exasperated daughter, in a shelter style environment. Shelby, certain that a ghoulish uprising is out of the question, just wants a cell phone, a normal job and to be able to spend some less secretive time with her boyfriend, Alex. But sometimes the folks are right, and when Shelby finds out the dead actually can have real bite, she is glad for all the preriquisite training. If only she weren’t feeling so strange…
Nicely, all of Maxine and Marco’s battle minded compatriots are women and the involved and inventive fight choreography by Matt Engle shows these actresses and, therefore, their characters off to strong intent. Indeed, the audience emotionally connects with all of them.
But if I must choose a favorite…I have decided that I want the divine Haley Rice to be my best friend, in real life, forever! Her subtle, slightly bored take on Isabel, the saucy custodian who starts off the crisis, is comic gold. I! Love! Her!
Granted, the second act does lose some of the zippy breeze established in the first, settling into much more nihilistic vibe. Tone-wise, it’s a bit jarring, as is the semi- cliffhanger ending. But the uniformly enjoyable cast is always a treat and it would be damn hard to find original scripting as zanily courageous and heartfelt, amplified by Janice L. Blizt’s flinty direction, as this anywhere else.
Zombie Broads runs at The Factory Theatre in Rogers Park in Chicago through November 26th. More information is available at https://www.facebook.com/factorytheater/ and www.thefactorytheater.com.
Until the next time – SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!