Review by Jared Davidson
60 Minutes | Comedy | Mature
In a zombie apocalypse, who would survive? Well, if I had to put money on it, I place at least one of my careful bets on fringers. Two reasons: one, fringers are dedicated, intense, and maybe a little bit out of their minds, all qualities that are well-suited to a post-apocalyptic world; and two, fringers are more likely to have seen the play Leftovers by Ryan Reed Mills, which gives audiences the straight goods on what-to-do-in-case-of zombie emergencies.
Here are some things I’ve learned from watching this play: your best chance at survival is to stay together, preferably in a CostMore brand superstore; Zombies are people too; actually, zombies are people that slowly transform into mindless killing machines. It sounds bizarre, and it most certainly is, but this play is actually an intelligent, thoughtful look at the humanity of the zombie apocalypse, and it continually finds this humanity places where other pieces haven’t had the gumption to look.
I entered the theatre (Studio Leonard-Beaulne for those following along at home) expecting a farce: a funny, lighthearted look at post-apocalyptic life with a buddy-comedy twist. And I wasn’t disappointed; the show is good for a laugh. What I didn’t think to expect was how poignant the show became as I watched it.
Without giving too much away, much of the play concerns a not-quite-yet zombie’s desperate efforts to contact his girlfriend before he loses himself completely. He is still human, but inching ever closer to monster. And, in the hands of many writers, and many actors for that matter, this twist would fall flat. But these guys pull it off! Actors Mike Connors, Kyle Cunningham, Jaclyn Martinez and Ashley
Rissler manage to imbue their characters with a real sense of depth. Are they funny? Absolutely. One bit in particular involving someone who had recently ingested peyote, swinging a katana and acting like George Orwell’s evil twin particularly stands out as brilliant. And the jokes aren’t throw-aways – neither are they for kids.
The level of intellect in the writing was a pleasant surprise, and vastly expanded the scope of the production. Besides the excellent structure of the writing, Ryan Reed Mills clearly knows his stuff; everything from George Romero to Buddhism to Tarantino is well researched and extremely well played upon. The show’s tone matches that of films like Zombieland in precisely that way. It is a lighthearted yet deep and impactful dig at zombies (get it?).
The final thing I will mention is that this performance comes complete with an original soundtrack. Lewis Caunter’s music matches the tone of the play gracefully and adds to it without distracting. Use of music to enhance productions in this way is becoming more common in fringe plays – great news for us.
If you like zombies, and you like funny, but you also like thinking, Leftovers is definitely something to check out at this year’s fringe.
Leftovers is playing at Venue 4 – Studio Léonard-Beaulne (135 Seraphin-Marion) on Sunday June 17 at 4:30pm, Monday June 18 at 7:00pm, Friday June 22 at 8:30pm, Saturday June 23 at 9:30pm, and Sunday June 24 at 6:00pm.