Stage and Cinema film and theatre reviews
 

 

AN EVENING OF LIGHT LOBOTOMY

 

picture - ZombieTheater Review

by Andrew Turner

published March 6, 2009

 

Zombie

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

 

 

 
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