Imitating the Dog and Leeds Playhouse Co production of Night of the Living Dead Remix came to Theatr Clwyd and I was unsure what to expect. Having never seen the original film and not quite sure how they were going to pull this off on stage, I was ready to embrace what was about to happen and I was not disappointed. This has got to be one of the most technically brilliant pieces of theatre I have ever had the joy to witness.
The premise is that seven actors along with numerous cameras and an on-stage operator would recreate the whole of the Night of the Living Dead film, shot by shot, showing the live recording on one screen as the original film is playing on another screen. Matthew Tully was model creator and operator on stage and worked brilliantly alongside the cast to create scenes where there simply weren’t enough time or people to create them.
At first it was hard to understand what was going on as it looked like mayhem on stage, occasionally two people playing the same character and people running around with cameras but then you realise they are creating the different camera shots or angles and after a short while it all became clear.
The cast of seven actors are made up of Laura Atherton, Morgan Bailey, Luke Bigg, Will Holstead, Morven Macbeth, Matt Prendergast and Adela Rajnović, all worked their socks off from beginning to end playing uncountable characters, as well as carrying the cameras to shoot each scene, quickly passing cameras before jumping in to shot to play another character.
Co-directors Andrew Quick and Pete Brooks are geniuses in my mind, how they managed to direct a recreating of a film, on stage and camera, and get it so right is mind blowing.
Projection and video design play a huge part of the show so a huge well done to Simon Wainwright for bringing it all together. Lighting by Andrew Crofts was perfect, picking out every detail and character to bring out the best to come across on screen.
The set was simple to look at, a white box with a staircase, some chairs and a cabinet and not much else but it worked on so many levels. The walls were like magic, allowing cast members to enter and exit pretty much all round to move to another place for the next shot. Huge well done to Laura Hopkins for the design of the set and costumes which were perfect for the era and matching the film almost like for like.
This type of theatre piece is better viewed from a bit further back in the theatre, luckily I was able to move back in the interval as I felt quite close, so you can fully enjoy both screens and the magic of what the actors are doing on stage. There were a couple of small technical issues, a very crackly mic early on and a blank camera shot at one point but both things were sorted out very quickly and it didn’t affect the flow of the show.
I fully immersed myself into the piece, so much so that I found myself sitting on the edge of my seat at points. This is not usually the type of theatrical piece I would think of going to see but I am glad I went along and witnessed this for myself. It was spectacular.
If I would take one thing from this experience it would be to try something you wouldn’t normally as you may very well get a pleasant surprise just as I did.
Reviewer Damian Riverol
Reviewed: 28th February 2020
North West End UK Rating: ★★★★