Dear Ren Casey:
Note: Ren Casey is the creator of this monster – book, lyrics and music of Graveyard Shift – a new zombie-musical-action-comedy which is part of the Fringe Festival. There is some action and lots of zombies. First error: too big a cast. Second error: the music is a hodge-podge of styles without being stylish. Sometimes sounding like a faux Sondheim tune that he might have written at the age of ten; sometimes sounding like the theme from Love Boat and that haunting, haunting tune, ValueVille, that sounded very much like Xanadu. At least everyone gets to sing his or her anthem to living life and having a dream. You also direct. Third error. Always a problem for me when one person thinks he can do it all.
If you are going to attempt to write a show that is a combination of the brilliant The Toxic Avenger meets the wonderful Walmartopia then you had better write a show that is better. Much better. Unfortunately you haven’t even come close. The music, as mentioned, is derivative and the comedy lame. Dialogue – cliché ridden. And the plot!
You start off fine with a well made video of The President of the United States warning all that a new virus is spreading from bodily fluids and that once infected you become a bloodthirsty, killer Zombie and that the only way for said Zombies to be killed the second time around is to destroy their brains. You almost succeeded with mine. I wished that I had that X buzzer from America’s Got Talent to stop the action.
There is some good material here but it wanders off into a satire of the Wal-Mart (ValueVille) type of store where everyone is taught to smile and where they are working for minimum wage and where everyone has a thwarted dream which they eventually get to sing about and where they are unaware of said virus. Until Granny make her entrance. I won’t go on. It was really difficult to get through this show – in two acts.
I will save the large, hard working cast from being further embarrassed by not mentioning their names. They do try their best but it is difficult with the material they are given. Late in the overlong second act there is a dance of the Zombies – pretty nifty by Sydney Skybetter but totally uncalled for.
Hopefully, Ren Casey, you will take a good hard look at what you have wrought and attempt to improve upon it which is what this Festival is all about. Best of luck.