(Postcard by Zombie Joe)
Zombie Joe’s Underground is back with an all new, soon to be classic, twisted show- Blood Alley. Blood Alley is a tribute of sorts to the old grand guignol style with some gallows humor. With an ensemble cast featuring Charlotte Bjornbak, Cassie Carpenter, Allison Fogarty, Alex G-Smith, Ian Heath, Liliane Laborde-Edozien, Daniel Palma, Kelly Powers, Danielle Reverman, Elif Savas, Adam Shows, Morgan Allyce Smith and
Kevin Van Cott, and directed by Zombie Joe.
Blood Alley is set in a dark, forgotten alley, where over the course of an hour unspeakable scenes of the bizarre and twisted take place. Almost like a time machine, the ghosts of past decades fill the haunted alley with their décor and style. The street is unforgiving as it paints scenes of extreme sexual acts, ghost like entities roaming or crawling across the stage and everything in between. Some are as wacky such as a giant fish flopping around on the ground, or as horrific as rape by gun point.
To be blunt, Blood Alley is a new variation on Urban Death, the annual marquee show of ZJU. For those unfamiliar with Urban Death, it’s a series of vignettes with no dialogue, focused on scenes of dark horror, terror, murder, death, and nightmares. Blood Alley is similar to that, but with less focus on horror, and more on bizarre imagery and strong sexual scenes. To be fair, the theatre itself calls the show “The evil red-haired step-child of Urban Death,” so some similarities are expected. Several of the scenes are something that would be straight out of Urban Death.
One of the key differences I noticed between the two shows is the intensity of the scenes. Some are brutal and inhuman in nature. The scene of a young woman being held at gunpoint while she is being raped is gut wrenching to see. We want to turn away. However we continue to watch, being the voyeuristic society we are.
One element that stood out was the use of resident ZJU musician, Kevin Van Cott, who not only performed live music throughout the show, but also provided comedic commentary as the cop assigned to patrol the alley.
The cast is fearless. It takes real courage to go out there and perform some of the most disturbing and intense moments of the show. It takes a certain level of commitment and skill to not only perform in a crazy scene, but to be able to perform one scene and then to immediately prepare for another scene seconds later. There also has to be a high level of trust among the actors to be able to put on a hardcore show like this, and you can clearly see it.
My only gripe with the show was the staging. Unlike Urban Death, this show played in the center of the theatre, with the seats positioned to create an alley way, with audience members on both sides of the stage. While the use of all parts of the stage and riser provided an interesting experience, certain scenes were blocked in a way where the action couldn’t be seen. I often noticed audience members having to stand or move to see what was going on, and several scenes couldn’t be seen at all from where I sat.
Blood Alley is definitely worth seeing, but be warned. As stated above, the show is brutal with plenty of sexual depravity, drug use, and violence. That being said, the show is different and the cast is fantastic. I honestly would not be surprised if, like Urban Death, Blood Alley becomes an annual event at ZJU.
Blood Alley runs for two more weekends- Friday and Saturday Nights, April 1st through April 9th, 2016 at 11pm. Tickets are $15 and can be bought at the door or online at ZombieJoes.Tix.com . You can also call the official ZJU reservation hotline at (818) 202-4120. ZJU Theatre Group, 4850 Lankershim Blvd., North Hollywood, CA 91601. As with Urban Death, it is highly recommended to buy tickets ahead of time, and arrive to the theatre to get good seats as this show will sell out.