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Creepy vignettes meet South African stories in Urban Death, starting tonight at the Intimate Theatre.
WHEN Los Angeles-based director Jana Wimer helped Zombie Joe from Zombie Joe’s Underground Theatre Group create the cult live horror show, Urban Death, the first thing that struck her was how seriously dark the theatre was.
“We can really surprise the audience,” was her immediate reaction, and this has remained a mainstay of the show, no matter how it has morphed over the years.
The style is very specific to Los Angeles’ Zombie Joe’s Underground Theatre Group, though the stories for the Cape Town run will be slightly different to what they do in the US.
Usually based in Cape Town, Guy de Lancey was in Los Angeles and blown away by a performance he saw of Urban Death. So, when he met actress Heike Brunner (normally based in Joburg) in New York where she was working with Zombie Joe on a different show, and she and Wimer suggested bringing Urban Death to the Mother City, he leapt at the chance.
He suggested The Mechanicals as a good place to find actors and for the 10-person show they have also drawn on recent UCT graduates to flesh out the ranks.
The production is visual theatre, heavy on the images and light on the sounds.
“Very short scenes that leave a lot to the imagination,” is how de Lancey, who acts as producer on this production, described it.
“It’s scary because of what’s in your head. It’s very suggestive and before you process it, some- thing else happens,” he said.
“It’s like a roller-coaster. You get on, go for a ride, scream and get a thrill and a big fright. But, when you get off the roller-coaster you say: ‘Let’s go again,’” said Brunner.
“This is the South African-influenced version. It’s collabo- rative, so the cast bring ideas for the vignettes. The stories change every time, but it’s the way it’s presented that stays the same.
“Jana will say: ‘Freeze, don’t move that finger’. She works to military precision,” said Brunner.
De Lancey said that after watching it the first time, what stayed with him were the images.
“The focus and the clarity... it’s theatre with all the extra stuff stripped away,” he said.
“The level of precision; it cuts right through everything,” said Brunner.
After discussing it for a while, both agreed though, that the show is not suitable for children under the age of 16 because of the themes they explore.
• Urban Death, The Intimate Theatre, Hiddingh Campus, today to December 15 at 8pm (excluding Sunday and Monday). R120 from webtickets.co.za or at the door.