If you’ve ever wanted to brush up on your machete skills and find out if you’re likely to become mincemeat as a character on “The Walking Dead,” then “How To Survive A Zombie Apocalypse” is for you. It also provides some LOL-worthy infotainment while we wait for the zombie rom-com Warm Bodies and this summer’s big-budgeted World War Z to hit theaters.
The creative minds behind “HTSZA,” presented by Combined Artform and After Dark Entertainment, have delivered a hysterical and highly entertaining show at the Theater Asylum for anyone who’s ever seen (or ran away from) a zombie flick. Dawn of the Dead, 28 Days Later, Resident Evil…they’re all mentioned – and lampooned – in this simply staged production written and created by Ben Muir, Jess Napthine, David Ash and Lee Cooper. It also doubles as a cleverly constructed educational tool for any doomsday “prepper” anticipating an undead uprising in the near future. And let’s face it; now that 2012’s Mayan prophecies are behind us, we can focus our collective attention on how to protect ourselves in a new disaster.
At the center of this mock seminar, spreading the word of the illustrious Dr. Dale Seslick (creator of the “School of Survival” in the U.K.) is Dr. Bobert Dougash (familiar-looking actor and director Patrick Bristow). Dougash has started the U.S. branch of the School, based on Dale’s real-life book "Dr. Dale’s Zombie Dictionary: The A-Z Guide to Staying Alive" (seriously, you can buy an actual copy). He has also assembled a crack team of zombie survivalists (a doctor, a military guy and a slacker geek) who entertain as well as inform the audience, insuring the survival of the human race during the brain-eater epidemic. That said, get ready to learn a few important lessons, like why a vampire could be your best friend.
The briskly paced show, formatted like so many of those self-help seminars that deserve to be satirically skewered, has been adapted for American audiences, particularly the Los Angeles crowd (jokes about the Cahuenga Pass and Toluca Lake will have some local residents chuckling in their seats). There’s a fun, all-hands-on-deck sensibility to the show, and much of it is due to Bristow’s comedic skills. He’s clearly familiar with the material and has brushed up on all of his zombie cinema homework. And did I mention there’s a “Gangnam Style” cameo in the middle of the show on the minimalist set?
Cast members Jayne Entwistle, Chris Sheets and Tom Ashworth each bring their own interpretation to the comedic nuts and bolts that make up the zany experience. All of them skillfully balance improv with the scripted dialogue since the format of the show requires quick thinking, especially during moments of audience participation. And there’s plenty of it. Peppered throughout the production are several pop quizzes and audience Q&As during which the game-faced cast interacts with the crowd. Think “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” crossed with a Comic-Con panel.
Theatre Asylum is located at 6320 Santa Monica Blvd. in Los Angeles. For more information, click here.
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