The bone-chilling 1968 horror movie Night of the Living Dead featured zombies feasting on human flesh. Tim Bauer's Zombie Town is an offbeat comic take on that gory tale. Under Mark Routhier's direction, the spirited cast had the opening night audience raising the roof with laughter.
Five actors share the challenging task of bringing to life the zombie-infested backwoods town of Harwood, Texas, as well as a trendy theater commune from San Francisco to interview the survivors of the invasion in order to create a documentary play about it.
The zombies are corpses in various stages of decay. They have returned from their graves, and defeating them is a problem on the order of squaring the circle: how do you kill a dead man? Euclid or Mary Shelley may know the answer, but the countrified folks of the town and the sophisticated Haight-Ashbury thespians are in a panic. I suppose it's our inner Zombies that make us laugh at such bloodthirsty shenanigans, as we meet the former mayor, an accountant, a hardware store owner, a tavern owner, an ex-hippie, a gravedigger, a radio DJ and various members of the commune. "There ain't no zombies," one says, "just your garden variety re-animitated corpses." What's re-animating them? Radioactivity from the Manhattan Project via rain that's seeping into the cemetery.
In any case, Slash (Chris Kaminstein), the ex-hippie, wants to make time with an underage woman (Natalie Boyd) and suggests they get beer and go dancing on the graves at the cemetery. Soon, the radio jock interrupts the music to announce the town is beset by "roving bands of murderers, who eat the flesh of their victims," an allusion to H.G. Wells' infamous The War of the Worlds radio show. Before long, Slash, the tavern owner and the accountant are trapped in a house and struggling to survive.
The show is the first full production in the partnership between Southern Rep and Le Chat Noir. It stars Natalie Boyd, Kerry Cahill, Gamal Abdul Chasten, Chris Kaminstein and Zach Rogers. Sara Zoghbi designed the apt costumes and Su Gonczy designed the effective lighting. — Dalt Wonk
Through July 18
8 p.m. Thu.-Sat.; 6 p.m. Sun.
Le Chat Noir, 715 St. Charles Ave., 581-5812; www.cabaretlechatnoir.com