June 22, 2012

BRIDEZILLA VS. THE APOCALYPSE (Review)

REVIEW  

Bridezilla vs. 
The Apocalypse (2012)

Director: Steff Bishop-Lampman

Writer: Aaron Middlemiss

RATING:

3.5 / 5 zedheads



"Until death do us part" takes on a whole new meaning in Bridezilla vs. The Apocalypse, the bloody and amusing zombie comedy currently being staged at The Staircase Theatre (June 21-23) as part of Black Box Fire's Emerging Artist Series.

Laughs and bloody violence ensue in this horror farce in which an up-and-coming wedding planner finds herself the reluctant protector of a spineless groom, his bridezilla wife-to-be, and their idiosyncratic wedding party when their big day coincides with a mass undead uprising.

Am I the right audience for Bridezilla vs. The Apocalypse? Let me put it this way: I purposely sat in the front row because there was a chance I could get splashed with blood. In my bag was a dashboard zombie wobbler I had just bought from Cheapies, and while I waited for the show to begin I was reading my George A. Romero tribute issue of Fangoria. Yeah, if you offer me zombies, you have my immediate attention. However, I came for the zombies but I stayed for the comedy. While Bridezilla vs. The Apocalypse lives up to its promise of blood and conventional zombie elements, I was surprised to find that I came away far more entertained by the play's unconventional hero and her unconventional love triangle.

Liv (played by Laura Ellis) is not your typical wedding planner. Raised by a survivalist-obsessed father, she's a tough go-getter with a charmingly dorky neurotic undercoating. Naturally, she's perfectly prepared to survive a zombie apocalypse. Ellis plays Liv with a crass enthusiasm and energy that consistently moves the play forward. She's also not your typical female hero. Confident in her sexuality although not sexually objectified, physically capable of beating down zombies even though she's easily flustered by revised seating plans, Liv's an intriguing character to hang a zombie comedy on. Unfortunately, she never quite feels completely genuine, and Ellis's depictions of Liv's frustration is often forced and hollow. Still, in contrast to the grand cowardice of Peter (Iain Lacourt), the ridiculous filthiness of the drunken best man Brad (Erik Canaria), and the over-the-top infantile tantrums of Peter's fiancée Angora (Lila Hunt), Ellis manages to strike a dramatic balance between the outlandish and the down-right lovable in her starring role as Liv, with emphasis on the lovable part.

In terms of performance, the standout star of Bridezilla vs. The Apocalypse is Nina Hladio as Alicia, the bride's maid of honor. Although the characters around her are very broad in their characterization and demand more attention (never verging on the cartoonish but definitely embracing an arch sensibility), Hladio's Alicia feels very real, sincere, and grounded. From the moment Hladio comes on stage and sees the character of Liv, she communicates with just her eyes and her body language that important but subtle spark of attraction suggesting that Alicia wants Liv. When it's later revealed that Liv feels the same way but her desire is complicated by a previous one night stand with Peter, the groom, it's Alicia who keeps the whole farce from flying off its axis into a ridiculous comedy of errors. Although Hladio's role is small while Ellis, Lacourt, and the zombies are clearly the stars, Hladio turns in a nuanced performance that keeps the tone of the play on solid ground.

With the hetero/same-sex love triangle in play, there are brief moments of sentimentality, but for the most part Bridezilla vs. The Apocalypse is a constant stream of laughs. Not all the laughs hit their mark -- some, which may have been ad-libbed, turn out to be obscure in-jokes -- but by the time the play hit its stride around the third scene change, I found myself laughing out loud and applauding until the final blood-soaked conclusion.

Except for a painfully cheesy opening video montage of unconvincing news footage to set up the reports of a strange "flu," Bridezilla vs. The Apocalypse is a solid comedic offering of local theatre and low-budget but high-energy story-telling. And I'll tell you this: Bridezilla vs. The Apocalypse taught me that even a few zombies in simple makeup  and with only little bit of blood can be a lot scarier than anything on The Walking Dead when the live zombies are in your face and coming for you in the front row!

Bridezilla vs. The Apocalypse is simply, but pleasantly, a light and fun night out at the local theatre. For only $10, less than a ticket to the multiplex, Bridezilla vs. The Apocalypse brings more intimacy and laughs (and even a few scares) than most summer blockbusters have to offer. If you love zombie comedies and dark humour, you won't want to miss Bridezilla vs. The Apocalypse during its limited three-day engagement at The Staircase Theatre in Hamilton, ON. Reserve your seat today.

E-mail: easreservations@gmail.com

SHOW TIMES
Thursday June 21 @ 7:30pm
Friday June 22 @ 7:30pm
Saturday June 23 @ 2pm
Saturday June 23 @ 7:30pm

LOCATION
Staircase Cafe Theatre
27 Dundurn Street N.
Hamilton Ontario
  

BRIDEZILLA VS. THE APOCALYPSE: FACEBOOK EVENT PAGE