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Saturday, March 2, 2024

Theatre review: Zomblet is a cheeky take on Shakespeare’s tragedy

Halloween mash-up combines Hamlet with The Walking Dead for a fun night out

Irreverant, funny and far cleverer than it has any right to be The Villains Theatre and Terra Novella Theatre production of Zomblet answers the rarely asked question, “what if instead of pantomimes at Christmas, they came at Halloween?” Playwright Dan Bray mixes Hamlet, Faust and The Walking Dead to dizzying results in this two-hour opus.

Doing double duty as director Bray keeps the pace quick, and while a dramaturg may help in a couple of slower scenes, Zomblet adds up to a fun night out this spooky season.

Of course, broad comedy only works with committed actors and Bray has assembled a team ready to chew the scenery and their fellow actors.

Leading the charge is Nick Cox as Hamlet. Mopey and maudlin, he is hilarious as he switches between Shakespeare’s original and Bray’s Mamet-esque jargon. Cox plays up so thoroughly the absurdity of the piece that one wonders how it will be possible for him to do this on two-show days.

In a variety of roles, Jessica Oliver and Madeleine Tench also shine as guards, gravediggers and Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. The two scores big as R&G decked out in varsity jackets and attitudes that would have likely had them chugging beers at frat parties with Brett Kavanagh.

As Horatio and Polonius, Colleen MacIsaac and Melanie Patten are more subdued than some of their goofy counterparts. The result is a welcome calm that is not out of place with the zaniness around them.

MacIsaac, Cox and Jordan Ginn provide an inspired sound design/score that even includes an act two opening musical number, and magic consultant Vincenzo Ravina proves his worth with some cool tricks.

Trigger warning for pearl clutches out there, there are f-bomb’s and gore to spare throughout. But on what is likely a minuscule budget, Zomblet ultimately works because as silly as Hamlet meets Night of the Living Dead may sound, everyone on the production commits one hundred percent.

Zomblet written and directed by Dan Bray. A Villains Theatre and Terra Novella Theatre production. On stage at The Bus Stop Theatre (2203 Gottingen St, Halifax) until October 27. Visit for tickets and information.

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