Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Urban Death 2017 (review)

Spoilers ahoy!

For years and years now Zombie Joe’s Underground Theatre Group’s signature theatrical piece has been Urban Death, a series of vignettes designed to shock, amuse, intrigue, gross out and disturb.  This year’s iteration certainly achieves all of the above.  But since the individual vignettes are so many—many less than two minutes—and depend on shock, describing them in any detail would take away from the experience.  Which is not my job.  Nor would I wish it to be.

So here is what I can tell you.  Each year, Urban Death is different but has carryover.  Certain little scenes return, sometimes after a long absence.  I spotted a few repeats this time, but mostly we are seeing original stuff.

The style varies from year to year.  Sometimes it is more subtle and creepy, other times more in your face, while (and this never ever fails to impress me) usually something pretty topical/universal pops up.  It certainly does here, in a vignette I suspect might be called “Dead Models.”  Maybe.  Those are often my favorite.

Credit: Wimer-Joe-Matulis-Slezak
But overall the 2017 version introduces us to fairly intense but brief nightmare images.  The really gross ones are at the very top of the show.  You’ve been warned.  You’re welcome.  Some were extremely short indeed, just vivid weirdness on a scale of what-is-that to OMGWHATISTHAT?  Plenty of jump scares but good ones.  One or two that proved fairly obvious but worked.  Several were laugh-out-loud funny, mostly touching on gender expectations.

I will mention in passing that last piece would have sent a friend of mine screaming from the room—but then she has a pretty severe phobia of clowns.  And dolls.  Especially when the latter move…

The cast (some of whom do appear naked, just as a head’s up) consist of Patrick Beckstead, Michelle Danyn, Shayne Easin, David Wyn Harris, Ian Heath, Jetta Juiansz, Dasha Kittredge, Iana Neville, James Sanger, Adam Shows, and Matthew Vorce.

Urban Death plays Saturday nights at 11pm Saturday nights until April 29, 2017 at ZJU Theatre Group 4850 Lankershim Blvd (just south of the NoHo sign, just north of Camarillo) North Hollywood CA 91601.

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