Crawling corpses too close for comfort

King’s Town Players’ production of Night of the Living Dead runs for the third consecutive year

Night of the Living Dead, originally a 1968 feature film, depicts the story of a joke gone awry between two siblings which leads into a real zombie thriller.
Night of the Living Dead, originally a 1968 feature film, depicts the story of a joke gone awry between two siblings which leads into a real zombie thriller.
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Bloody handprints grab at railings; scuffmarks colour doors grey. In a way, the bare set forewarns us of the apocalyptic tale to come.

Night of the Living Dead, originally a 1968 feature film adapted for stage, is in its third production by King’s Town Players.

The show makes its first impressions through a TV screen perched in the upper right corner of the room above the stage.

It’s here where the premise of the story is introduced — a joke about zombies between siblings gone awry, leading to a real zombie thriller.

This footage prior to the acting foreshadowed a tone which continued throughout the play — comedy supported by detachment from the real emotions of the characters.

The actors were stymied in their maneuvering about the stage, at times, appearing aware that they were, in fact, acting and not immersed in character. This consciousness hampered the cadence of the dialogue.

Like the uneven struggle between the protagonists and their zombie assailants, my impressions consistently vacillated between lethargic dialogue and the fortunate charm of the individual actors. I found that Reece Presley’s assertive alpha-male presence as Ben, the male lead, and Nicole Garrett’s tenderness as Barbara, the female lead, proved to be a very effective fit for their respective roles.

Where the play was truly decided, however, was with Steven Spencer’s portrayal of Mr. Cooper. Spencer carefully captures the character’s indecision about his own safety versus the safety of the group.

This, in tandem with a struggle against Ben for leadership of the group, put the actor’s fear, pride, and uncertainty on display and successfully engaged me in the story I was watching unfold on stage.

In spite of the sluggish pace hindering the play, the actors shone through with a great deal of natural promise and potential.

Night of the Living Dead is already a tradition-worthy piece of entertainment with an audience that — like the zombies of the plot — will likely only grow in numbers with time.

Night of the Living Dead runs from tonight to tomorrow and Oct. 17 to 20 at 8 p.m. in Convocation Hall.

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