Photo credit: Brandon Slezak

For the latest show at Zombie Joe’s Underground Theatre, guests had the chance to come face to face with their monsters they keep hidden. MONSTERS COME OUT AT NIGHT is directed by Zombie Joe himself and challenges us to “bravely face and conquer the physical, mental, and spiritual monsters, entities, and poltergeists that stalk us from their shadows” (ZJU press release). As someone who attends most shows put on by Zombie Joe Underground Theatre, this one in particular left me smiling as I clutched a gifted white rose.

As I had mentioned, I attend a lot of these shows, and sometimes they can become a bit repetitive which is why I enjoyed how much MONSTERS COME OUT AT NIGHT was willing to try new things. As with all Zombie Joe’s shows, there is very minimal set design, instead relying on the actors to move along the story through their performances. Symbolism towards our own personal monsters weighed heavily throughout the experience but there seemed to be a strong message towards the end that signaled the ability to conquer said monsters.

I felt as though MONSTERS COME OUT AT NIGHT really spoke to me in a more personal way than previous shows. I’ve always been open about my own demons and I felt like this show really embraced that idea. So often we try to keep the monsters within our life at bay, but eventually they always find a way to bubble to the surface. This was shown beautifully during the show through the use of red colored sheets where the monsters hid their faces. You knew they were there, you felt them as their bodies pressed up against your own and they whispered in your ear, but visually they were hidden behind a curtain. It’s only when the curtain comes down that we have to face that which we have tried so hard to hide.

When we finally emerge into the open, we are led to the back of the Zombie Joe’s where we get to see those who have succumb to their demons. Their perversity reigns supreme in the most destructive ways possible. Having been someone who succumbed to their vices in a way that almost destroyed their lives, I felt those moments hard, even if there was a humorous tinge behind the actor’s performance. I also think the use of space really worked towards the advantage of the overall execution of the show. Though there were a few bumpy moments, mostly with the use of the sheets, overall the actors used the space to it’s maximum potential. As the viewer we got to experience all the rooms within Zombie Joe’s for differing reasons which all came together for a climactic ending that tied the experience together.

Overall, I really loved what MONSTERS COME OUT AT NIGHT brought to the table. Is it weird and interpretive, sure, but isn’t that what we love about the shows at Zombie Joe’s Underground Theater? The theme of coming face to face with my monsters is something that I loved exploring and with the addition of some new elements, most notably in the music and the use of the sheets, MONSTERS COME OUT AT NIGHT is a bold step in the new direction. As much as I love my URBAN DEATHS and BLOOD ALLEY, there is something to be said about the shows that go even further out of the box.

With all that said, I look forward to seeing more experimental theater with some new elements and I applaud Zombie and the cast for putting on another hell of a show. MONSTERS COME OUT AT NIGHT will only have two more weekend performances so make sure you snag your ticket before the run is over! Maybe you’ll be presented with a beautiful flower from your own personal monster…

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