Dead on! SCT nails creepy camp for teens

Published on: December 30, 2013

I took a pair of sixth-grade girls to Seattle Children's Theater's undead romp last Friday. We came to see zombies, and zombies we got, plus a whole lot more.

This show is a solid PG-13; ignore SCT's warnings at your peril. The non-stop gore will easily upset many (most) younger kids. Even I - a seasoned TV News producer, used to watching raw video feeds all day - found the parade of severed limbs and mangled, flesh-lusting faces a bit much after about an hour. But the deliberately over-the-top melodrama - including a stellar turn by Sarah Harlett as Barbara - kept my two young companions laughing, if a bit nervously at times.

The story opens with Barbara and Johnny visiting their father's grave on a - you guessed it! - dark and stormy night. Before long, they find out they're not alone in the graveyard, and the fun begins. Poor Johnny's a goner, but Barbara escapes. She and a small band of survivors barricade themselves in her house, fending off a relentless parade of zombies who poke through windows, doors and fireplaces at intervals.

As the intrepid band bickers and panics, Barbara goes slowly crazy to terrific effect. The actors are obviously having a great time; the zombies ham it up righteously, shuffling glassy-eyed while gnawing on "severed limbs." There are loads of humor high-spots ("Don't shoot! We're from Ballard!") and it's fair to say the crowd loved the show, with the exception of the three very worried grade-schoolers seated right in front of me, who talked nervously and non-stop throughout.

A shout-out to artistic director Linda Hartzell for walking the edge, knowing that we can handle something this darkly funny. But I am begging you: Do not bring your little children to this show. Besides the high-camp humor, which will be lost on those under 13, and the gallons of "blood," there is mild swearing and a delightfully unredeeming finale, which will be upsetting to anyone still immersed in the world of happy endings.

But do take your teen - or even go without kids! Living Dead does what it sets out to do: Provide an evening of fun, creepy camp; an unsettling pleasure, just as the days are growing darker.

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