Living Dead in Denmark
nytheatre.com review by Anthony C.E. Nelson
June 15, 2007
I'm not sure how I can accurately capture how much I enjoyed Vampire Cowboy's production of Living Dead in Denmark. I suppose "I would like to marry this play" comes as close as anything.
Imagine a mash up of the X-Men, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Lord of the Rings, The Rocky Horror Show, zombie movies, lesbian prison movies, and Shakespeare's major tragedies, and you have something of a sense of what Qui Nguyen is going for in this rollicking, action-packed play. Of course, if you're anything like me you stopped reading in the middle of that sentence and went off to buy tickets.
The plot, such as it is, concerns Ophelia, newly resurrected Bionic Woman-style to serve Fortinbras alongside fellow suicides Juliet and Lady Macbeth in a battle against the evil Zombie Lord. Upon this premise, playwright Qui Nguyen has built an intricate web of betrayals, mysteries, and pop-culture references. His script crackles along, and while the plot is mostly an excuse to get us to the next song or fight scene, Nguyen builds in enough wit and the jokes are current enough that we're kept enraptured all the way through.
Director Robert Ross Parker handles the action adroitly, and the fights that Marius Hanford and others have built are truly spectacular set pieces, surpassing anything you're likely to see at the movies this summer. The cast is uniformly strong, but I was particularly impressed by Alexis Black's coy Juliet, and by Maggie McDonald, who takes a role as a slang-speaking Puck that could be cliché and turns it into a sly combination of Gollum and Jamie Kennedy. If you have a spare hour and 45 minutes, there are precious few ways to spend them that will be more fun than taking in Living Dead in Denmark.