Volume 90, Issue 73

Tuesday, February 4, 1997



On stage B-movie hardly sleepwalks

Shereen Chang/Gazette
NOTHING BEATS THE INFAMOUS CHOKE HOLD. Rick Verrette strangles Jim Noonan during a loving scene in The Zombie, playing at Talbot Theatre.

The Zombie
At Talbot Theatre
Feb. 4-8

What hard-working student would not enjoy a relaxing evening filled with chilling, horrific comedy and mindless entertainment? These are exactly the offerings of The Player's Guild's presentation of The Zombie.

Written by Tim Kelly, The Zombie is a comedic thriller about a disgruntled-carnival-worker-turned-zombie master named Baron Samedi. Along with the corrupt constable Billy-Jim Cartwright, Samedi turns intruders, criminals and illegal immigrants into zombies and sells them as cheap labour to neighbouring farms. Add one television producer and two soap queens who stumble onto the scene and who knows what will happen?

The cast of The Zombie is extremely diverse and experienced, with an equal mix of Western students and outside talents. Baron Samedi is played by Rick Verrette, who holds the position of chairman of the Arts Council of London and president of the Western Drama League. He brings a sense of mystery and eccentricism to the role, which is appropriate for a mad scientist and former carnival hypnotist.

Other zany characters include Billy-Jim Cartwright, played by Jim Noonan. Cartwright is Samedi's crooked conspirator, who leads his victims into the spooky swamp to become "walking dead." Noonan's character is described by the rest of the cast as "a combination of Barney Fife and Roscoe P. Coltrane," which surely can't fail to entertain.

Marlies Smeets is Mama Matrisse, an old voodoo priestess residing in the Okeefenokee Swamp of Florida, where the play is set. Smeets' foreboding and dramatic tone of voice as she casts campy horror-film hexes add to the chilling humour of the play.

Producer Kevin Oakley describes The Zombie as a "B-movie on stage." He comments that The Zombie was deliberately chosen as an alternative to the usual serious, dramatic productions on campus. At its deepest level, Oakley says, the play is "a tale of commerce and revenge," but the only real message to the play is "Don't get lost." The Zombie is self-consciously silly and simply aims to entertain.

The light subject matter, however, does not undermine the level of production and performance in The Zombie. Director Dale Hirlehey brings experience and insight. Hirlehey has directed 40 plays and acted in 10, with a role in The Sorceror just recently under his belt.

The Zombie is a light-hearted production which is entertaining and spectacular. As an added bonus for thrifty students, Friday's matinee will cost only $7 and will feature a cameo from current USC president Dave Tompkins. Whatever role Tompkins plays, he is sure to add to the horror-film humour of The Zombie.

–Lisa Weaver

To Contact The Entertainment Department: gazent@julian.uwo.ca

Copyright The Gazette 1997