As I’ve said many times in the past, Zombie Joe’s Underground Theater never ceases to amaze me. Every few months, a new show is presented that shocks the audience with it’s powerful performances and social commentary. In Zombie Joe’s latest show, “Tortured Souls”, guests are enveloped within the performances from the actors as their stories of personal hell begin to unfold. The show itself is very immersive and of course horror-themed, where we are taken on a wild journey through the depths of our darkest nightmares.
What I really enjoyed about “Tortured Souls” was just how immersive it was. From the moment you enter the space to the heart-wrenching finale, you are placed smack in the middle of all that is happening. Not only do you get to explore the theatrical space that we’ve all come to recognize so thoroughly, but we also had performances that happened outside the building which elevated the overall experience. As for the space itself, as with almost all Zombie Joe shows, the design was very sparse, making the main focus be of those acting in front of us. The majority of the space is engulfed in darkness, except for a scene that is very reminiscent of a Red Light District, with pinpricks of light from candles throughout which helped in leading us from one vignette to the next.
As for the acting, it was top-notch. Each actor that we encountered on our journey embodied whatever torturous guilt that lived within them. I’m always amazed by just how incredible each and every person is in each show I go to, and once again, they did not disappoint. I don’t mean to single anyone out, but one of my favorite parts of this show was when we were lead outside and one of the actors, dressed in his own unique version of cross-dressing, put on a hell of a dance number. It was sad, as the undertone suggested some far more malicious, but also powerful, as he went ahead and showed us what he was capable of, with mascara streaming down his face and the stiletto heel of his shoe missing. Whoever that actor was that did that performance deserves all the praise.
As for the theme of “Tortured Souls,” well, it was dark to say the least. We become privy to sexual deviance, death, and horrible secrets hidden in the shadows. One would be hard-pressed to find anything that possesses a feeling of lightheartedness. There’s a moment during the show where everyone is asked to lie down on the cold concrete and the actors circle about performing their own interlude of terror. It’s quite a shocking and intense moment, especially if you have never been to any of Zombie Joe’s shows. I, for one, loved it as it made the overall feeling that much more dark and sinister.
Overall, I absolutely loved “Tortured Souls.” I’m forever on the quest of finding a show I love more than ZJU’s “Blood Alley” and “Tortured Souls” is a close one. The performances were incredible and intense and elicited many emotions from the audience. An aspect that I love about “Blood Alley” was used in “Tortured Souls” which was having live music played throughout the entire experience. I can’t put into words why that was so important, but something about the beat of the music triggered something within me. All in all, this is a show that you must see, especially if you want a change from the normal activities of the week. You may not leave feeling happy and refreshed, but you will leave with a unique feeling of awe and terror.
“Tortured Souls” will be performing on Fridays and Saturdays at 11pm & 11:45pm from now until March 25, 2017. For more information visit www.ZombieJoes.com and to purchase tickets visit www.ZombieJoes.Tix.com.
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