Things to Do in Boston When You’re Dead: NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD

Presented by the Post-Meridian Radio Players
Adapted by Jay Sekora
Original film script by George A. Romero and John A. Russo
Directed by Jay Sekora and Mindy Klenoff

October 25 – November 2nd, 2013
Responsible Grace Church
Somerville, MA
PMRP on Facebook

Review by Danielle Rosvally

(Somerville) Halloween can be a bit bizarre for those of us in our twenty-somethings.  That weird age bracket when you’re not yet ready to give up the idea that this time of year should be about more than the hum-drum and ordinary; that perhaps there was something to the sugar-coated memories of your childhood walks around the neighborhood in the brisk autumn air wrapped in some crude approximation of a Jedi robe that came from a Party City bag; that perhaps, if you look hard enough, there’s something out there to do that’s not sit at a bar and commiserate with the other “adults” who are still trying hopelessly to deny the fact that they’re too old for free candy from strangers (no matter how good their home-made Hogwarts uniform looks).

Live radio drama isn’t exactly common nowadays.  In fact, this was the first show of its kind I had ever attended.  Because of this, I was immediately skeptical about my own abilities to connect with the story: would it be difficult to follow due to my notoriously poor aural learning skills?  Would I feel for the characters?  Would the dissonance between what was going on onstage in front of me and what I was picturing in my mind be too distracting?

As it turns out, these fears can (mostly) be quelled by the liberal application of raw talent.  The Post-Meridian Radio Players have some voice acting chops.  Oh, certainly, there were moments which might have been emoted a bit more clearly with physicalization and facial expression, but honestly the bulk of the work was carried by the extremely strong performances of the cast.

And besides, I wasn’t looking at the players onstage, I was looking at the live foley artists.  For those not down with the lingo, “Foley” is a term used to refer to the creation of sound effects for movies and radio via the manipulation of live media.  In the case of Living Dead, this meant a table full of goodies which one or two artists manipulated, shook, banged, bashed, and (in one notable case) stabbed repeatedly with a trowel.  If that’s not engaging theatre, I’m not certain what is.

As I sat there, I couldn’t help but muse poetically that this performance was a brilliant example of the contemporary-turned-classical.  The root of the word “audience” is the Latin “audire” meaning “to hear” (notice how “audience” is close to the word “audio”).  In days of yore, an audience would discuss going to the theatre to hear a play rather than see a play.  Today’s Netflix, action movie, computer screen culture is completely video-centric.  Our entertainment is, generally, taken in by the eyes.  This has meant that theatre (over the years) has had to adapt – no longer do playwrights write characters who soliloquize with Shakespearean eloquence simply because the modern audience isn’t prepared to absorb information that way.  We are trained to see, not hear.  So what a lovely exercise for the mind to break that paradigm; to attend a night of entertainment completely outside of the common artist/audience exchange.

For that, I do think that audiences who have recently viewed Romero’s classic film will enjoy the performance more deeply.  Familiarity with it is not an absolute prerequisite, but I was certainly wishing that I had done my homework before I arrived (not because the action was difficult to follow, just because I think I would have caught more subtle dramaturgical moments).

On the whole, I would definitely recommend the experience of seeing this show (especially if you’re looking for somewhere to get your Halloweenies out without running the risk of being “accidentally” molested by some guy dressed as The Rock while shoving through multitudes of people in an attempt to acquire a drink from the bar).

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