Apocalypse Z: An Immersive Theatrical Experience

Apocalypse Z

Can you imagine quiet and peaceful Auckland being overrun by zombies?   How long do you think you will last in a zombie apocalypse?  Zombies have become quite the phenomenon across a range of entertainment mediums but have yet to make an appearance in live performance…until now.

Apocalypse Z is theatre like you have never experienced before; it is a unique blend of interactive and immersive theatre.  You are invited to suspend your disbelief as the show challenges the conventions of theatre, breaking the Fourth Wall by plunging the audience at the cold face of a zombie outbreak right in the heart of the city.  We are told that the only chance of survival is a safe zone that has been erected at the corner of Aotea Square.

As you make your way in to the outpost, from the armed guard keeping watch up high to the ARC (Armed Rescue Coalition) personnel performing tests on you to ensure you are not infected, you quickly forget reality and easily get sucked in to this world where Auckland is under threat.  The rain certainly helped make things feel all the more ominous!

Once inside the safe house, true to the horror genre, that sense of security is predictably short-lived as a new threat arises in our midst.  As things begin to unravel, the tension and sense of impending danger consequently increasingly escalates. I thought the video wall which revealed CCTV footage of within the outpost and the surrounding grounds was a clever touch.  That combined with some brilliantly timed and executed theatrical effects was very effective in keeping the audience on edge.

Between the polished script by Simon London and David Van Horn, excellent direction and set design by Andrew Foster and superb, authentic performances by the cast, this is one slick theatrical production.  I did feel the boundaries could have been pushed a little bit more though and there could have been potential to make it a lot more terrifying – but that’s just the seasoned horror fan inside me speaking!  Having said that, overall the show is genuinely quite scary and the action and drama that unfolds will get your heart racing.

I do not want to give too much away as the “magic” of the experience is in the fear of the unknown and not knowing what to expect.  It is definitely not for the faint of heart but if you are looking to experience a fresh, thrilling new take on theatre with a bit of bite – pun intended! – and you want to see how you would react in a zombie apocalypse, this is not to be missed!

The Whimsical Banana rates Apocalypse Z: 4/5 flesh-eating bananas!

Well done to Beth Allen, Charlie McDermott, the cast and the rest of the “ZomCrew” – bring on the sequel!

Apocalypze Z is on until 27th April and is brought to you by Royale Productions in association with STAMP at The EDGE.

Ensure your survival and get your ticket to safety now!  Tickets are available here.  I would also recommend checking out whatwillyoudotosurvive.com

Unwrapping Christmas in the BIG little City

Unwrapping Christmas

Calling all Aucklanders!  If you’re looking for some jolly festivities to get you in to the spirit of the silly season, Aotea Square is the place to be.

This year, The EDGE team up with BIG little City to bring us a fun and unique Christmas experience Auckland-style.  With an eclectic line up of street theatre, live music, art, dance and more there is something for everybody.  Here’s the best news: it’s all FREE.

Back again for the fourth year running is the fantastic Random Acts programme which continues its tradition of taking theatre to the people.  I checked out the acts over the weekend and was thoroughly entertained!

Pacific Me CityPacific Me City 2

I thought Pacific Me City was a very clever spin on a dance routine.  Presented by Ura Tabu Pacific Dance, the performance is essentially a mobile interweaving dance mob which takes the living statue mime act to a whole new level.  The performance is almost entirely interactive – it’s “success” is heavily dependent on audience participation.  Four performers strike a pose in front of four posts which read “…stand here for dance instructions”.  It does take a few rather awkward minutes of staring at these frozen performers before the crowd get what is going on but soon there were quite a number of people who were game to get an impromptu dance lesson.  I loved the Pacific twist to it as well as those bright and colorful costumes!

Twas the Night before ChristmasMy personal favorite was the charming and magical ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas by The People Who Play With Theatre.  If you love fairy tales and appreciate performance which incorporate beautiful imagery and puppetry, this one’s for you.  Imagined and constructed by Auckland playwright, puppet-maker and performer Ben Anderson, this famous poem is quite literally brought to life with the set and performance space being a giant book!  With each turn of the page, the world unfolds in a pop-up fashion – this innovative storytelling technique is truly a visual spectacle and engaging experience.

Comic Interludes

I was drawn to the re-styled truck which doubles as a mobile stage at the edge of the Square so I had high expectations for Comic Interludes, a masked street theatre show inspired by Renaissance European acting troupes and circus.  While I enjoyed the energy and comedic antics of the LAB Theatre performers, the actual story left me a little cold.  The story was easy enough to follow, it just didn’t have a “hook”.  Judging by the dwindling audience, I think the over-the-top mayhem became a little off-putting to some.  It’s a mighty shame because they are a talented ensemble and they effortlessly drew the crowd in at the start, they just weren’t able to capture the people’s attention for the entirety of the show.

Unsung Heroes

If you’re not just popping by on a flying visit and plan to spend the afternoon enjoying everything Unwrapping Christmas has to offer (highly recommended!), you will no doubt come across the mischievous trio known as the White Face Crew interacting with passers-by as part of their Unsung Heroes act.  From entertaining short skits to spontaneous gags to coming at you with sunblock inviting you to “slip, slop, slap”, this cheeky characters will have you hooked with their silly antics, clowning and physical theatre.

Tango de Construct

Tango de Construct 2

Geoff Gilson of Beautiful Sake Productions and tango partner Victoria Szerdi will transport you to the vibrant streets of Buenos Aires with their sensuous Tango De Construct pop up dance performance.  Once they hit the dance floor, I couldn’t take my eyes off them – they glide across the “stage” so effortlessly and with such grace and skill.  For those keen to have a go, you’re in luck!  This year there is a new offering called Bandstand Under the Stars which gives you the opportunity to not only watch different styles of dance but to learn firsthand from the performers themselves.

Moving Canvas, a dynamic and colorful display of live body art is the last act in the Random Acts programme but which I have yet to see as unfortunately they weren’t performing on the day I was there.  It does sound very intriguing though so I am planning on popping down this Sunday to check them out.

Unwrapping Christmas - Aotea Square

Overall it was an extremely fun and fabulous day out in the BIG little City and one I would recommend to anyone – young, old, theatre lover or not – there is a whole array of activities on offer to keep everyone entertained.  And if somehow nothing tickles your fancy, pop down anyway for a drink and bite to eat, or a sunbake on the deck chairs – better than staying cooped up at home, at any rate!  We may not have a White Christmas but this wonderful Unwrapping Christmas programme proves that a Southern Hemisphere Christmas can be magical too!

Unwrapping Christmas is running until the 21st December at Aotea Square.  Below is when the Random Acts are on but for the full programme which includes Bandstand Under the Stars, Christmas Markets and an excellent Live at Lunch line up, click here.

Unwrapping Christmas - Random Acts programme