Review: Acting Up Productions' 'Night of the Living Dead, Part 1'

October 21, 2011
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Among the many very smart choices director/designer R. Brian Noffke made in adapting the zombie groundbreaker "Night of the Living Dead" to the stage, the smartest was to have his actors take their characters' plight very seriously.

That's not to say that the evening spent with the living dead at the Indy Fringe Building isn't fun. It's loads of fun.

But it's fun in large part because a group of very committed actors don't break for romance, they don't break for song, they don't break to wink at the audience and they never for a minute seem to forget that there are a growing number of unexplained, shuffling creatures outstide who want nothing more than to eat them. 

Sam Fein, Mick Seldon, and Lisa Ermel--whose faces, if not all their names, may be famliar from local stages--each give the kind of performances that, at the movies, bring to life screenplay cardboard. (No, this is not a brilliant play. But does anyone want a brilliant zombie play?)

Second among the smart choices made by Noffke was to show fairly early on how bloody crazy gory violent the show can be--and then to hold back so that otherwise uneventful dialogue-heavy scenes become packed with suspense. It's those "don't open the door" moments that help balance gore with goosebumps.

Noffke also wisely uses the IndyFringe Building space, resetting the story in an abandoned church. The environmental staging, accented by effective lighting and just enough cheesy music, let audiences know from the beginning that they are in good hands. Even if those hands may, without warning, be ripped from their arms.

"Night of the Living Dead" ends its limited run with two shows on Oct. 22, at 9:30 and midnight. Call now if you want seats.

Your thoughts?

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  • Living Dead
    I agree with everything you said AND would like to add that the makeup is amazing. The zombies are terrifying. A must-see!
  • Cool article
    FIRST!

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  1. Kent's done a good job of putting together some good guests, intelligence and irreverence without the inane chatter of the other two shows. JMV is unlistenable, mostly because he doesn't do his homework and depends on non-sports stuff to keep HIM interested. Query and Shultz is a bit better, but lack of prep in their show certainly is evident. Sterling obviously workes harder than the other shows. We shall see if there is any way for a third signal with very little successful recent history to make it. I always say you have to give a show two years to grow into what it will become...

  2. Lafayette Square, Washington Square should be turned into office parks with office buildings, conversion, no access to the public at all. They should not be shopping malls and should be under tight security and used for professional offices instead of havens for crime. Their only useage is to do this or tear them down and replace them with high rise office parks with secured parking lots so that the crime in the areas is not allowed in. These are prime properties, but must be reused for other uses, professional office conversions with no loitering and no shopping makes sense, otherwise they have become hangouts long ago for gangs, groups of people who have no intent of spending money, and are only there for trouble and possibly crime, shoplifting, etc. I worked summers at SuperX Drugs in Lafayette Square in the 1970s and even then the shrinkage from shoplifting was 10-15 percent. No sense having shopping malls in these areas, they earn no revenue, attract crime, and are a blight on the city. All malls that are not of use should be repurposed or torn down by the city, condemned. One possibility would be to repourpose them as inside college campuses or as community centers, but then again, if the community is high crime, why bother.

  3. Straight No Chaser

  4. Seems the biggest use of TIF is for pet projects that improve Quality Of Life, allegedly, but they ignore other QOL issues that are of a more important and urgent nature. Keep it transparent and try not to get in ready, fire, Aim! mode. You do realize that business the Mayor said might be interested is probably going to want TIF too?

  5. Gary, I'm in complete agreement. The private entity should be required to pay IPL, and, if City parking meters are involved, the parking meter company. I was just pointing out how the poorly-structured parking meter deal affected the car share deal.

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