Review “The Revenants” (WildClaw Theatre): What do you do when your spouse dies…and returns?

Friday, January 16, 2015 Permalink

10404293_1029454627084180_5649833898138350207_nWildClaw Theatre presents THE REVENANTS.

What would you do if the love of your life turned into a zombie?

A).  Run

B).  Shoot him/her and run

C).  Tie him/her up and stay

D).  None of the above

In their zombie love stories, WildClaw has a husband and wife grapple with his undead wife and her undead husband.  The play starts as Josh Zagoren (Gary) and Elizabeth Birnkrant (Karen) drag their recently bitten spouses into the basement of an abandoned house.  The apocalypse is on!  And Zagoren and Birnkrant must decide what to do with their recently-lovingly-departed-and-returned-revenants.

Playwright Scott T. Barsotti pens the ultimate futuristic marriage dilemma.  He serves up his marital woes with drama and comedy.  Birnkrant tries to convince Zagoren that the essences of their spouses is still there beneath their zombie exteriors.  Zagoren amusingly responds to the unusual quandary by getting drunk and going shopping.

The best parts of Barsotti’s tale had me on red alert.  The whole watch-out-there-are-zombies-in-the-room made my whole body tense up.  Director Brad Akin, along with designers Barsotti (movement) and Scott Cummins (violence), build the tension with their deadly undead, Krista D’Agostino (Molly) and Drew Johnson (Joe).  Their constant moaning and jerky movements was unnerving.  While Johnson was bit more docile for a zombie, D’Agostino was a maddening hot mess.  Her exhausting performance was this weird balance of animalistic urges and unsettling creepiness.  D’Agostino had me completely unnerved.

For the first half of the show, the fear factor was spine-chilling and neck-prickling.  I was holding my breath and leaning forward in my chair. Then, the story shifts.  The fear factor is more relationship oriented.  Although Barsotti gives his horror tale more substance as his characters tackle the death-do-us-part vow, the scary elements dissipate. Bloodcurdling turns into stomach churning as the focus is less survival oriented and more ‘what happened to us?’  The anxiety is still present but the terror isn’t.  And even though I have no experience interacting with zombies, I would describe some of the exchanges between the humans and zombies as unrealistic.  Uh, ‘don’t try to hold hands with a zombie’ just seems like common knowledge.  But, of course, I probably would have gone with ‘A’.

Nod out to Scenic Designer Dan Stratton and Properties Designer Janelle Boudreau for placing us in a well-equipped basement.  The eclectic assortment of discarded junk and plastic coverings on the staircase and windows gave it the right eerie tone of a fallout shelter.

Running Time:  Ninety minutes with no intermission.

At Athenaeum Theatre, 2936 N. Southport

Written by Scott T. Barsotti

Directed by Brad Akin

Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays at 7:30pm

Sundays at 3pm

Thru February 22nd

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For more reviews and information on Chicago theatre, visit Theatre in Chicago.

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