AN EVENING OF LIGHT LOBOTOMY
by Andrew Turner
published March 6, 2009
now playing Off Broadway at The Studio @ Theatre Row
through March 29
It’s hard to believe that a one-man show about a sexually deviant serial killer could just fly by. Particularly on uncomfortable
wooden seats in a cramped theatre with bad lighting. And yet the Razor’s Edge production of Zombie, now playing at Theatre Row on 42nd Street, does precisely that.
The play is based on the Joyce Carol Oates’ novella of the same name, published
in 1996, about lonely serial killer Quentin P and his quest to find a recipient for his infantile and deviant sexual attentions. After reading
an old medical text that describes the process of a lobotomy, he believes he has found his answer, and sets about operating on his victims
with an ice pick.
Not exactly a formula for must-see theatre, but actor Bill Connington is so terrifyingly ordinary, so captivatingly creepy in his
role of Quentin P that it’s impossible to look away. As he describes the procedures he undertakes to operate on his victims, you find
yourself utterly entranced, as disgusted with yourself for watching as you are with the freak in front of you.
And make no mistake – Connington is a freak. And I mean that in the best possible way. His soulless stare is so, well, soulless
that it’s like staring into a moral black hole. When he booms his fury at seeing a prospective zombie “strutting like a proud cock” before
a group of young girls, you find yourself quaking in fear despite his 100-pound frame. Word on the street is he’s so convincing that even
his friends find it hard to be around him after a show. Even Oates was hesitant to shake his hand.
Director Thomas Caruso does a great job with the pacing, which is important in a play like this. He also gives us a glimpse of
Quentin’s softer, sensitive side: his talent for beating himself at Chess, his hesitancy to kill his grandmother after she loans him some
money for a van.
Whether or not you agree with Oates when she says, “Our fascination and
revulsion for the ‘monstrous’ among us has to do with our uneasy sense that such persons are forms of ourselves, derailed and gone terribly
wrong,” this captivating and disturbing show is a must-see. Even if you have to peep through your fingers to do so.
andrewturner @ stageandcinema.com
read John Topping's interview with Bill Connington