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How To Survive A Zombie Apocalypse
Published on Tuesday, 18 August 2009

This review covers the version of this show performed at the Edinburgh Fringe 2009.  Craig Thomson also reviewed an updated version of this show in 2010, and his reaction was much more positive.  Read our more recent review. 

With most groups you see at the Fringe, it's not hard to imagine how they came to be. Friends from school, folks who met on another job, a hired cast of professionals, whatever. But I can't for the life of me think how the performers who deliver How to survive a zombie apocalypse came together on this show.

Checking out the website of After Dark Theatre Company doesn't provide any answers, but does deepen the mystery - promo materials there describe a cast of six, where only five are featured on the Edinburgh programme. Mind you, it's hard to imagine that an extra cast member would be able to recover this. How to survive a zombie apocalypse is hosted by Dr Dale Seslick, an irritating figure in dark glasses and fake tan, and his Team of zombie experts: Donald (survival), Judy (science), Valerie (weapons and defence) and Malcolm (counsellor).

Ah, Malcolm. Poor, put-upon Malcolm. The script, such as it is, calls on him to be pathetic, and he was good at it; in fact, he was the best thing about a well-intentioned but otherwise utterly dull effort. Marketed as an informative seminar on, well, how to survive a zombie apocalypse, this was part-theatre, part-improvisational comedy, and wholly-unfunny, and could sit comfortably alongside the driest example of corporate tedium the seminar industry can provide.

I'm willing to accept that I was present on something of an off night. I think a lot of the comedy potential for a show like this comes from audience interaction, and on the few occasions when the crowd gave them something decent to work with, they made a good fist of it (particularly good was a latecomer who was made to have the lesson so far recited back to her by the whole 'class'). Most of the time, though, the audience was either silent or inane, leading to a lot of unsure stammering from the Team.

Further evidence in support this theory is their website, howtosurviveazombieapocalypse.co.uk, which seems quite fun; a lot more fun, perhaps, than actually going along. Check it out, and if you see anything there you like then you might enjoy the seminar. If you don't, then don't go - not least because it's people like you who help get them reviews like this.

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