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

It’s all about The Pride

On leaving the Herald Theatre last night, I couldn’t help but feel a sense of great pride (no pun intended!) at the fantastic theatre scene we have here in Auckland.  Makes me very proud to be a part of this big little city!

Silo Theatre’s The Pride hits the nail on the head on all accounts – outstanding cast, exceptionally written, simple but innovative set design and perhaps most importantly, a play that succeeds in being both entertaining and thought-provoking.  The play is performed by a mere cast of four under the superb direction of Sophie Roberts and depicts two different worlds that are fifty years apart.  In 1958 we witness the shame and anguish from a forbidden love between two men whereas in 2008 the two men are openly together but their love is riddled with betrayal and lust.

The characters may have the same name but they are not the same person.  They are, however, intrinsically linked; their actions indirectly affecting the other, and the “bigger picture” through time.  Through the clever moving of the glass panel backdrop and simple relocating of the set, the narrative transitions between the different times seamlessly and the actors swap between their two characters effortlessly too.

I was thoroughly impressed by Simon London’s portrayal of both the darker and troubled 1950’s Phillip and the more carefree and evolved Phillip fifty years later.  The subtleties in his performance – the nervous twitches, the inflections in his voice, differing postures and body language – are remarkable and really showcase his skills as an actor.

I felt there was not too much of a leap between the two Olivers but still a solid performance from Kip Chapman.  His excellent facial expressions and animated delivery of his lines (particularly as the 2008 Oliver) were what stood out for me.  I had last seen Kip in Black Confetti (my review for that can be found here) where he played quite a dark character so it was quite refreshing to see him tackle something completely different.

Sylvia takes up the third spot in the complicated love triangle that unfolds in this story and she is played brilliantly by Dena Kennedy. Through her expressive and highly emotive performance you can’t help but just root for her in both worlds.  The chemistry that the three share when together on stage is just amazing, especially the awkward social exchanges in the beginning.

Sam Snedden is the fourth and final cast member and although he is what you would call a “supporting act” his skillful performance of three very different characters demands your attention and is absolutely top notch.  And while he may not be a part of the central trio, the characters he plays are integral to the story because they represent the views of society on homosexuality and how they’ve changed.

The play tackles a whole lot; love, desperation, oppression, freedom and loneliness so I left The Pride feeling pretty emotionally spent – but in a good way!  It is an extraordinary play with bite and a lot of depth because it is also a thinly veiled social commentary about the changing attitudes towards homosexuality over the span of fifty years.  Every character embarks on an emotional journey and we are right there not only to see it all happen but we are swept away with them too.

Thank you, Alexi Kaye Campbell for writing this superb and important theatre piece and thank you, Silo Theatre for bringing us this simply incredible production!

The Whimsical Banana rates The Pride: 5/5 Bananas!

At times intense and confronting, but also incredibly engaging and uplifting with an extremely talented cast.

The Pride plays at the Herald Theatre until September 1st .  For more information and tickets, click HERE.