In honor of its 25th anniversary, Zombie Joe’s Underground Theatre has gifted us with new dark delicacies in BRAVE THE DARK. As Zombie Joe himself primed our crowd before entering, BRAVE THE DARK is a gentle immersive experience packed with some of the same notes from cult favorites like URBAN DEATH or BLOOD ALLEY.
So, what makes BRAVE THE DARK different? You get to walk around! in the dark! And, I assure you, this prospect is not as cheeky as the last two exclamations would lead you to believe. Even though I have been to ZJU a number of times, I still found myself groping around as our tiny group made its way from scene to scene. Fortunately for all involved, the players of BRAVE THE DARK use lighting in all sorts of special ways to guide you along. When put in shadow, every single part of the venue gets transformed. What gets birthed is something aesthetically unique to this show. The few punctures made by light end up flirting with a fine balance: enough watts to get a handle of what you are seeing, but too dark to truly know what is happening. At this intersection, you will find yourself in a waking, surrealist nightmare.
With any ZJU production, the biggest nod must go to the cast. In its more conservative (and I am only using this word to describe the audience/play layout, of course) forms, it is always a joy to piece together afterward who was in what. The disorienting qualities of BRAVE THE DARK only leave you with the specter of a presence, but it will be hard to put a finger on a single actor or moment you found unsettling. The experience must be taken as a whole. Even though it is hard to pinpoint specific parts of the show to share with y’all, I can say affirmatively that BRAVE THE DARK has live music. The drummer is the most clearly defined character of the lot. He will make you jump, chuckle, and know when it’s time to move back into the real world.
If you always find yourself looking for naughty, undead after-dinner entertainment, then Zombie Joe’s Underground Theatre should always be your go-to bet. Regardless of which experience you will have the pleasure of seeing, an evening at ZJU is the quickest measure of compatibility between you and your date. And if you’re going alone, you will be sure to make new friends among the crowd.