Those familiar with Zombie Joe's Underground Theatre Group certainly know this ensemble pushes boundaries, explores darkness and disturbing corners of the cosmos, usually amidst weird humor.
Well, Blood Alley 3 takes all that in many ways to the next level.
As in its first iteration (alas, never managed to see the second), the premise here lies in the title. In some (presumably American) city, an alley has become what has become a "Bad Place." The idea here is from modern horror iconography. A spot--like the Overlook Hotel or the town of Arkham--which for some reason becomes a magnet for the preternaturally strange and dark. In American horror literature, New England seems full of towns which have achieved this state. Here, it is an alley.
Then there are the more extreme acts, like the slave market and the gloating woman who takes her human chattal to do god-knows-what. Like some one gleefully setting a man (Patrick Beckstead) bound and gagged on fire. Like paying to rape a girl, with the others "on offer" trying not to pay attention (or worse, too numb to react). Elsewhere--or elsewhen--a woman rips out a naked man's throat with her teeth. And another man gets a blowjob, pulling out a gun to aim at the woman's head as he approaches climax.
Unlike Urban Death or Lost Souls, I cannot say there is anything supernatural we see in these vignettes. Other than possibly the fact we can see them. If anything the horror here--while extreme--remains firmly grounded in human evil, human cruelty. Sometimes with startling humor as with the Victorian (or maybe Edwardian) bit done by Jason Britt and Michelle Danyn, in which some very very repressed people flirt--and it all goes so very very wrong.
Then there are very strange moments of beauty. Without going into too much detail, something dreamlike happens when the lights go up and we see a lovely naked woman on stage, spattered all over with blood and seeming unconscious. Yet then...
I don't want to spoil it.
While I"m at it, let me praise the performers such as Yael Wallace, Matthew Vorce, Brandon Slezak, Amanda McKenna, Juan Carlos Gough, Shannon Garland, and Shayne Eastin. Their talent and bravery make this show work.
Blood Alley 3 plays Fridays and Saturdays at 8:30pm until June 10, 2017 at ZJU 4850 Lankershim (just south of the NoHo sign, just north of Camarillo), North Hollywood CA 91601.