Yes, I did say “zombie musical”. Friday night, a friend and I went to see Brains!, which was showing at a small local venue called the Artery.  This was my first time at the Artery, and I’m glad I wasn’t out trying to navigate this bad, BAD part of town by myself.  I’m sorry to say that I judged a book by it’s cover because, while the Artery looks supremely sketchy from the outside, it’s actually a pretty nice place inside.  It’s an  incredibly versatile space dedicated to the visual, audio, literary and perfomance arts.  And while I may never have heard of it before, others in my city clearly keep abreast of upcoming events here because the venue was so packed, my friend and I had to sit on the stairs behind the band.  Which brings me back to Brains!

Brains! Zombie Musical
Handbill cover image

Officially: “Brains! is the story of a boy and girl who travel to a mysterious Zombie Island. Once there, they are beset upon by zombies and must fight for their lives. What do you do when the love of your life becomes a zombie? Featuring all original songs and a local cast, Brains! will delight fans of both zombies and musicals.”  This official description is a little misleading, however, as the troubled couple are part of a large group of vacationers who come to the island for a holiday.  Also among the visitors are a Doctor and his daughter, who are actually making a return trip to the island to make a zombie vaccine. (The first time they came to the island, the Doctor’s wife became a zombie, and he had to shoot her.)  The first zombie is made by a voodoo witch, but it inevitably spreads to the rest of the group, eventually leaving only the Doctor, his daughter, and the girlfriend alive.  The trio take refuge in an abandoned church as the zombies rhythmically beat the ground and walls from outside.  At one point, as the girlfriend breaks into song, asking “Can I put a bullet in the head of my boyfriend?”, the zombie chorus loudly replies “He’s a zombie!”  Maybe you had to be there, but it was pretty funny.  The part that made me laugh the hardest was when one of the zombie choristers picks up a washboard and starts playing it with a dismembered arm.

The songs were definitely the most enjoyable part of the performance, which is  good because the short bursts when there was actual acting were a little painful.  The songs were clearly rehearsed, but it didn’t feel as though there was an official script for the speaking parts; it came across as (nervously) improvised.  Which I suppose is understandable, as the audience was told at the start that some of the cast had never performed on stage before.  The actress playing the heartbroken girlfriend, Meagan Loves, has a great singing voice and I remember thinking, “If this girl isn’t in a band, she really should be!”  Turns out she sings for a local band I really like, Swear By The Moon (:  I don’t really want to say too much about the way the musical ends, as there’s still another showing, and who knows who may see this.  I will say that despite getting increasingly antsy as the 90 minutes wore on, due to my butt getting nicely numbed  from sitting on the stairs, I actually had a good time at this musical!  I was expecting something over the top and campy, and that’s pretty much what I got.  The number in attendance and the quality of the songs makes me think this play could be a hit at this summer’s Fringe Festival – only maybe with a touch more practice…

Official Poster for Brains!
Official Poster for Brains!