Cheesy, camp, funny and fast. Midnight Radio is a brilliant concept, and Bricolage Production Co.’s current edition, Midnight Radio: Night of the Living Dead N’at, delivers. Producing artistic director Tami Dixon irreverently adapted George Romero’s 1968 classic, but it’s the N’at that really kills.
If you don’t know the drill, Midnight Radio is a twisted take on 1940s-era radio dramas, with “sponsors,” games, and more packed into an hour. The narrative sometimes follows a movie that is screened minus its soundtrack, which is replaced with live actors following a new script. A small cast provides all the voices and sound effects for multitudinous characters.
The story of Night of the Living Dead can be summed up with the immortal line from the original flick: “They’re dead. They’re all messed up.” Sheila McKenna voices most of the female characters, with an occasional assist by music director Deana Muro, who’s on stage playing the keyboards. McKenna nails the non-bright-bulb “heroine,” Barbra, catatonic even before the zombie apocalypse.
On the XY team, Wali Jamal portrays the resourceful Ben (first-ever African-American hero in a horror film), with some wry observations about his fellow refuge-seekers, a generally clueless bunch. And all white. Jason McCune doubles as the hapless Harry and the hopeless sheriff. Sean Sears shines in the commercials. Kudos also to the production/design team: Andrew J. Paul, projection; Hank Bullington, set; Kristin Helfrich, lighting; sound engineer Brendan Kepple; and stage manager Wendy Vandergrift.
This production also features musical guests Cello Fury, an all-cello trio that gets a couple of star turns as well as accompanying the action. And new for this show, the ever-interactive Bricolage has opened the Zombie Porch, giving six members of audience (chosen before the show) to act the undead on cue. Costumes help.
N’at’s “commercials” (also written by director Dixon) continue the Halloween/horror theme in tasteless, knee-slapping humor. Can I say that I loved what she did with Mr. Clean?