‘Night of the Living Dead’ mixes horror, dark humor

Emma Olson, Writer

On Sept. 20 through 22, Linfield Theatre presented its performance of “Night of the Living Dead” by Lori Allen Ohm.

The play, directed by senior Melory Mirashrafi, exceeded expectations and was well received by the audience.

The story revolves around seven people trapped in an abandoned house to hide from an oncoming zombie outbreak and how they deal with the terrifying circumstances.

The cast did an excellent job of portraying the fear and stress caused by the situation through well-delivered lines and convincing screams.

It was clear upon entering Marshall Theater that this performance would provide constant reminders of its source material, the 1968 movie by George Romero and John Russo by the same name.

The set — and, as it was later revealed, the cast and their costumes — was designed to be entirely black and white as an allusion to the film.

Likewise, the trailer for the original film played on the screen behind the set as audience members waited for the performance to begin.

A fog machine added extra eeriness to the atmosphere.

The show began on-screen, the opening scene taking place in a graveyard where a pair of siblings, Barbara, played by junior Elise Martin, and Johnny, played by sophomore Sam Hannigan, lay a wreath on their father’s grave.

This sad scene soon turned grisly as they were attacked by a strange man: a ghoul. In other words, a zombie.

As Barbara ran away screaming, the on-screen scene ended and the on-set action began.

Martin burst through the theater doors and ran on stage, frantically crying for help as a bone-chilling crowd of the undead chased after her.

Her performance in this scene perfectly combined horror and humor: she was believable, and yet the character’s terror was just exaggerated enough to get a little laugh out of the audience. That is, once everyone was done being scared themselves.

Another standout performer was senior Antoine Johnson, who played the role of Ben, who acted as a voice of logic and reason throughout the play.

While other characters panicked or fought, Ben came up with solutions to keep the zombies out of the house.

Johnson did a spectacular job of portraying a likable yet frank character.

The role of Ben proved to be more than just a helpful strategic thinker, however. As the only black character in the show, this character became a political statement based on how he was treated at the end of the play.

In the last scene, Ben was shot by police who were searching for survivors, despite not having been transformed into a zombie.

This parallel to the issue of police brutality towards African Americans was solidified when the show ended with video clips of current day protests on the screen.

This way to end the show was chilling but important. It sent a powerful message that was all too real.