I spend what I’m sure most would consider an inordinate amount of time planning for the Zombie Apocalypse. This is not a concept (read: eventual presumed circumstance) that causes me any type of anxiety mind you, on the contrary; true preparedness affords you yoda-like calm even in even the most intense of post-election scenarios. Zombie experts all pretty much agree, it’s not a question of if, but when and at least I have time and a plethora of pop resources available to me to help inform my Z-Day plan. Given this pastime of mine, you can imagine that I sat down to the Pear Theatre’s Geek Vs. Zombies with an arsenal of “knowledge” and premeditated arguments ready to color my feeling about the show. I’m thrilled to report that a) no actual zombies sighting have been confirmed to date, and b) I found the show to be a delightful love letter to the flesh eating undead and the geeks who idolize them.
While I’d say the overall plot arch wasn’t entirely original or wholly unpredictable, the dialogue is natural, funny and so packed with geek references/homage that I pretty much fangirled all over the theater (sorry, my bad). With a Kevin Smith kind of clever, supported irreverence and a healthy dose of dorm room one-uppery, the banter flows and paces enjoyably. Sure there are some crass jokes, language some might find tasteless or unnecessary, but I thought the commitment to the world of the characters permits it all. Plus I’m not a little bitch when it comes to four letter words or dick jokes. I imagine those on the outside of (many) inside jokes would be justified in scratching their heads at 3 people audience right finding it hard to catch their breath from laughter, but those are also the kind of people that would probably put baby in a corner. It should be noted as well that hearing “Salacious [B.] Crumb” uttered on stage was kind of a religious experience. I feel the world could totally benefit from more, non-ironic, completely legitimate, accurate descriptive mentions of Jabba the Hutt’s slave Jester. I feel in this moment THAT’s what would make America great again, people. Take note world leaders, I think the writers are on to a lot of things here. With verbal and visual gags galore, it’s important to also acknowledge there’s heart served up with those braaaaiiinnsss and that brief-but-key and intentionally present sentimentality is brought to life (or back to life?) every bit as much as the joking by a cast of talent clearly enjoying itself.
Indeed, not only was the source material 10,000% amazing, but the handling of it, especially by our fantastic four (Loomis, Wallace, Blair, and Macready) was charming, natural and oozed with chemistry. The casting achieved evil genius status as our loveable anti-hero quartet raised the bromance bar, demonstrating some serious Geek Squad goals. There’s a Stand by Me kind of bond among the boys/men/man-children/dorks, and their honest rapport is depicted with the balance of both bold, over-the-top and understated, subtle choices. Based on performance alone, if THEY are the last four guys left to repopulate the human race after the Z.A, it’s all gonna be totally copacetic. Our tour guide Milo’s deadpan is certainly something you’ve seen if you frequent Bay Area Theater and the delivery really couldn’t have been more perfect for this show. The entire ensemble possesses and executes courageous comic timing and I appreciated a grounded yet perky performance from our omniscient entity.
The soundtrack easily warranted its own bow at curtain call setting tone and expectation even before the show started. Harvey Danger, Muse, Beastie Boys, Lord of the Rings, this is pretty much the playlist I’m going to queue up in my own Jeep after that first Zombie sighting. Speaking of first zombie sighting, without any spoilers, MOST ACCURATE MOMENT EVER. Totally spot on realistic reaction. One of many favorite moments, executed so perfectly it felt like 4K 3D with Dolby Surround Sound. I may have audibly yelled “Yes.” I can neither confirm nor deny.
Technically this show didn’t need much and that’s mostly what they settled on. The set was simple but certainly functional, the fight choreography did what it needed to, and the makeup was in no danger of fooling anyone there was a real zombie infiltrating the cast. Costumes were perfectly “normal” (10-1 most of the actors brought their own outfits in what may have been a little bit of totally awesome type casting) and there were some oddly designed or executed lighting, but none of that detracted too much from the wit, snark and geekalicious performances.
In glorious summation, my take-aways from this production were ample.
1) Validation for 90% of my own Zombie Survival Plan – I’m on the right track
2) A much needed laughter ab of steel workout (look out Thor).
3) Realization that my beloved 80’s just can’t get a break
4) A two hour break from thinking about anything aside from how much I felt a part of this conversation
I know this isn’t going to be everyone’s cup of brains, but I personally adored this show and found it to be exactly what I needed on a Saturday night. Jabba no doubt would let Salacious live to jest another day. At the very least, if you’re a sci-fi inclined, video gaming, zombie film-loving, comic book aficionado and/or identify as a card-carrying geek, I feel confident you will find this time even better spent than a LAN party. No cheats and no codes, level up and assemble to the Pear! Geeks Vs. Zombies scores 4 ½ jewels out of 5 in the review tiara for a silly (and let’s face it, empirically informative) romp, ripe with clever phrasing, pleasing performances and topical/contemporary humor. Geeks Vs. Zombies play through December 18th at the Pear Theatre in Mountain View.