Theatre Review: Night of the Living Dead Remix at The Leeds Playhouse

Combining the political unrest of 1960s America and the current ever-popular zombie craze, innovative theatre troupe Imitating the Dog bring their “remix” of George A. Romero’s cult classic to The Courtyard Theatre where Leo Owen caught the show

NIGHT of the Living Dead Remix opens with original footage of Kennedy’s assassination while an actor simultaneously reports the news live on stage. This multi-media blend of past and present sets the tone for what follows as eight cast members cleverly reproduce the film in its entirety shot for shot in real time.

A screen wraps the stage, encasing the cast while two sets above show black and white footage, one with the original film playing and one with a live feed of the show. The opening scene is both cleverly and humorously created with a toy car, miniature road model and camera. There are revolving panels in the backing screen projection and sections the cast can walk through as dual actors play characters, cleverly freeze-framing while others are filmed before the camera crosscuts back.

Although the film is faithfully re-created, Imitating the Dog splice scenes with historical footage, amalgamating to create the feeling of the breakdown of traditional American society: Martin Luther King’s murder is announced and the attack on Robert Kennedy. All are carefully timed to draw clear parallels between the political unrest and growing zombie mania with the Vietnam Tet offensive poignantly framing Molotov cocktails being launched.

A dramatic soundtrack and harsh spotlights add to the atmosphere while some amusingly dated, ill-timed or misogynistic lines shift the mood, creating unexpected humour. Comparing the original and the remix at times results in sensory overload but also highlights the meticulous timings and obvious talents of the ensemble.

Night of the Living Dead Remix shows in The Courtyard Theatre 24 January -15 February: