Here ye, here ye! Zombie Joe's Underground Theatre is bringing new delights our way with DEVILED, a horror-theatre experience about two sisters who open a portal between Earth and Hell. For those new to Zombie Joe's, you will find the material riveting. For those of you who are hardcore Urban Death or Blood Alley fans, you will find similar notes in DEVILED, but do not be fooled! DEVILED is very much its own separate universe and does not attend to the same comedic appetites many of us have when we trot our way to ZJU.
The only description I can conjure for the overall experience of DEVILED is something like: "you know, if a demonic Aquaman beached himself at Zombie Joe's Underground Theatre and got ladies writhing." There was a contemplative sensuality to this show independent to the frights and witty gags of other ZJU productions. In this sense, DEVILED is a solid after dinner show for a mid-week date night, where, given the various effluvia of other ZJU treats I would recommend a pre-dinner showing for the easily ruffled.
You may walk into DEVILED expecting horns and thorns and smatterings of dark reds, but it takes notes more from a Dante's Inferno-style icy netherworld. As such, its hellish depictions are unsettling, but not torturous. Director Brandon Slezak achieved a balance between envelope-pushing scenes and somewhat family friendly content. The choice to have guests sit on the floor along the far edges of the performance was also far more comfortable than traditional seating arrangements of other Zombie Joe's shows.
DEVILED is a weeknight show running concurrently with other, more salacious weekend ZJU shows. In that regard, it was fascinating to see the way they warped the space (inside and outside of the lobby) to accommodate multiple stories and experiences. While I enjoyed the tones and textures of DEVILED, there were moments when I could have taken on a bit more extreme images or sensations. Perhaps it's because I had to sign a waiver before entering even though Zombie Joe said explicitly that the paperwork was primarily for the low lighting conditions. With that waiver, I felt the actors could have gotten a bit closer in the moments when they were using strobe effects to their advantage.
There are three performances each Wednesday through November 15th. Be sure to trot your way to Zombie Joe's Underground Theatre to catch something a little fresher from these fine folks while exploring the worlds of DEVILED.
For tickets and additional information, visit www.zombejoes.com.