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No More Room In Hell @ Arts Centre Washington

December 1, 2017 2:15 pm

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Review by Alexander Hannam 

No more room in hell poster

“When there’s no more room in hell – the dead will walk the earth.”

No More Room in Hell is a fun, and often surprisingly frightening adaptation of the Night of The Living Dead, the cult classic by George A Romero.

As a massive fan of horror, I was intrigued, and to be honest, slightly worried as to how they would pull it off. I’m glad to say that they did – with flying colours – to the point where this denim-clad metal-head walked away with a huge permanent grin plastered on his face.

The play starts off with the panicked entrance of Barbara, who – bursting into the room – screams (and I mean screams) at the site of a body in the corner. This sets the tone for the piece perfectly. Enter Ben, the bearded legend (my way of saying he was my favourite character) who was alarmed by Barbara’s cries. Eventually, more characters emerge from the basement Harry (deadbeat dad), Helen (pregnant), Tom (adorable) and Judy (also pregnant). At first, I was concerned that the play started off a little too slowly; however, as it progressed, it became more apparent to me that this may have been a directorial choice, to show in somewhat real time the pain of waiting for a light that may never come, which enhances the impact of the tragic ending.

The group begins to discuss plans to defend themselves from the ghouls with Molotov cocktails by running outside and getting keys to the truck – what could go wrong (a lot). Prior to leaving, Judy confesses to Helen that she is also pregnant but is hiding it; they bond over this and exchange some gothic dialogue like “If – when we get out.” There’s a palpable sense of dark hopelessness, as if the characters themselves know that they are not going to make it out alive. I loved it so much.

They choose to send Judy, Tom and Ben to fetch the keys. Harry, the deadbeat dad, is left to give them cover with a rifle; Harry decides that this is the perfect time to argue with his pregnant wife, like the genius is. Ultimately, they reconcile but their happiness is short lived, as only two return from the mission (Tom is heard screaming while being eaten alive, a moment which sent genuine chills up my spine).

I won’t spoil anymore, in case you’re interested in seeing it for yourself, if it comes back to town. I will say this however: I commend the director for only showing zombies in the final few scenes, as the piece could’ve easily devolved into “AAA there are ZOMBIES on stage!”. Thankfully, it avoids this, which heightens the audience’s agitation, as previously we don’t know what to do be afraid of.

I went in worrying about horror not working in a play, and I came out surprised by how effective it can be.

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