Flesh-eating & fear-mongering

King’s Town Players revives the cult classic Night of the Living Dead, but with a modern twist inspired by today’s fear-inducing media

The Night of the Living Dead cast is mainly made up of zombies whose only job is to bang on the windows and doors while constantly moaning.
The Night of the Living Dead cast is mainly made up of zombies whose only job is to bang on the windows and doors while constantly moaning.
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The six adult characters can’t agree on where is safest to hide in the house. The isolated cellar or the upstairs of the house where there are multiple exits.
The six adult characters can’t agree on where is safest to hide in the house. The isolated cellar or the upstairs of the house where there are multiple exits.
Photo: 

Seven strangers locked in a Pennsylvania farmhouse fight off a pack of flesh-eating zombies in King’s Town Players remake of the 1968 movie, Night of the Living Dead.

It’s the production company’s second year putting on the play, after director Clayton Garrett felt last year’s production didn’t live up to its potential. The lack of dialogue, combined with eerie music and moaning, makes it hard to relax. The company uses all of Convocation Hall as their stage. You never know when zombies are going to run in from the back doors and limp through the aisles.

The only set is the house’s living room, with all outside scenes projected on a screen beside the stage. When characters walk up the stairs they disappear from the stage and appear on the screen. The cast’s impressive timing made these transitions believable.

The play uses black sheets to create a cellar on stage when needed. The inability to fully see the characters in the cellar is nerve-wracking.

While the actors are convincing in their roles, they’re overshadowed by the gore. Splattering blood, intestines and gun shots are what keep the audience fixated on the stage.

The play’s most ingenious addition to Night of the Living Dead are news clips that the characters watch to learn about the outside world. The production takes jabs at modern media with news casts about terrorist plots and a fictitious H6N1 pandemic. Mocking the fear-mongering media provides a hilarious take on this 1960s cult classic.

Unfortunately the invasion of interpretation ruins the last scene. A strange dance sequence, reminiscent of “Thriller” seems out of place. It’s sweet that they use kids from Kingston’s School of Dance as the stars of the scene, but it was unnecessary to have the adult cast join in the dance. A thought-provoking remake turns campy with this ending.

Director Garrett described the show as a bleak story and it really is, there’s no semblance of a happy ending. But the amped-up gore keeps you horrified and enthralled even during the ridiculous dance scene.

Night of the Living Dead runs from tonight until Saturday at Convocation Hall. Shows start each night at 8 p.m. Tickets are $20 for adults and $17 for students and seniors.

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