I love stage adaptations of movies and adapting George A. Romero’s “Night of The Living Dead” is simply a stroke of genius.
Of course, it’s nearly Halloween so the timing is perfect, but this particular film brings with it all kinds of other still valid undertones about America in 1968, the year it was made. Vietnam, racism and the civil rights movement, the dissolution of the nuclear family. Romero made this film to fully reflect the time he lived in and its massive success and huge influence on cinema is indisputable.
So how do you turn it into a stage play?
It’s really all one location, a farmhouse, apart from the very beginning in a cemetery. And do you bring it up to date, or allow the actors to give their dialog a more natural, modern feel? Well, I guess that would depend on your vision, but Drina Durazo and Gus Krieger have produced a play that seems to reflect almost word for word and scene for scene the original film. Without coyness or comedy, without modernizing or emphasizing the clear parallels to our present chaotic world. They have recreated the entire film on stage and have let the audience experience it raw, unadulterated and it is utterly gorgeous.
There is a twist to the end which I think could be construed as modernizing in some way. But the characters, the performances and the tensions are all replicated and feel so authentic to the film and the time.
The set is brilliantly constructed and it really is a powerful and important character in the play. It brings the audience so completely into the action. It’s really so important that we are right there with them. One of the strengths of the film at the time was its realism, its naturalism, and that’s what rocked the cinema world. Why it felt so real and was so frightening and shocking.
I loved the film so I was a bit dubious going to see the show, but I can tell you that any reservations I had were utterly confounded.
This is a superb adaptation of a pivotal and highly important independent film. One that went on to make 250 times its budget in its first year of release.
The Group Rep like to push boundaries, make statements and dare audiences to go deep. This wonderful production is so lovingly made and the attention to detail so profound that I can honestly say it is the best film to stage adaptation I have seen.
As an homage to George A. Romero it could be no better. I’m sure the master of zombies would happily turn in his grave.
It runs until November 10…don’t miss it!!
Adapted by Gus Krieger from the film by George A. Romero’s
Directed by Drina Durazo
Produced by Larry Eisenberg
Running October 4 through November 10, Fridays & Saturdays at 8pm, Sundays at 2pm
Special performances October 30 at 8pm & October 31 at 8pm
Lonny Chapman Theatre, 10900 Burbank Blvd., North Hollywood. California.
Ashkhan Aref, Matthew Jayson Cwern, Kate Faye, Sean Faye, Cameron Kauffman, Kaia Mann, Lisa McGee Mann, Marc Antonio Pritchett, and Ian Runge; with Greg Abbott, Van Boudreaux, Patrick Burke, Paul Cady, Fox Carney, Kyle DeCamp, Larry Eisenberg, Doug Engalla, Lareen Faye, JC Gafford, Doug Haverty, Taylor Martin, Adam Neubauer, and Jake Scozzaro; and Cardonna Atkins, Donathan Atkins, Stephanie Colet, Julie Davis, Hisato Masuyama, and Troy Whitaker.
The production/design team:
Chris Winfield and Drina Durazo (Set Design), Douglas Gabrielle (Lighting Design), Angela M. Eads (Costume Design), Kenny Harder (Sound Design & Incidental Music), Marc Antonio Pritchett (Fight Choreographer), Doug Engalla (Promotional Video), Christian Ackerman (Marketing), QuainPhoto.com (Photography), Doug Haverty (Graphic Design), Matthew Herrier (Video Editing), Stage Manager (Kenny Harder), and Julia Hapney (Makeup Design).