Skip to content


Home arrow Archive: Earlier Fringes arrow Archive: Edinburgh 2011 arrow How to Survive a Zombie Apocalypse: The End is Nigh
How to Survive a Zombie Apocalypse: The End is Nigh
Published on Wednesday, 10 August 2011

4 stars

Zoo Southside (venue website)
5-27 Aug, 7:45pm-8:45pm
Reviewed by Kirsty Leckie-Palmer

 Recommended for age 12+ only.

How to survive a Zombie Apocalypse addresses a problem many of us have pondered. Sitting in a darkened room, safely ensconced in the sofa with my mug of tea clasped between whitening knuckles – a slack-faced zombie lurching, teeth bared, and eyes boggling at me through the TV screen – I have definitely asked myself, at least once, how would I cope?

The ‘seminar’ is lead by a crack team dubbed the ‘School of Survival’, and it’s designed to provide the necessary information and basic skills to defend against a shambling corpse intent on destruction. Throughout the experience, the audience are also participants in an elimination game, working as one team in order to prove they’re worthy survivalists. A few people could feel awkward at the prospect, but even though I attended the show alone I was only too eager to get involved.

Egotistical, impeccably dressed Dr Dale Seslack is the founder of the initiative, which forms a hotch-potch of characters who appear as though they’re tumbled straight out of some forgotten comic book. Judy, a bluntly efficient researcher, the rather feckless Donald (replete with camouflage jumpsuit) and endearing dimwit Tristen aren’t exactly spectacularly rendered, but they don’t have to be; they interact well enough with the audience and each other to convince. 

What made How to Survive a Zombie Apocalypse engaging was that it established a place between act and interact in which the audience were utterly charmed to find themselves. What was particularly enjoyable was the logical way in which the team explained themselves, as though killing a zombie was an exercise in logic and common sense. This informed mood clashed deliciously with the fact we were discussing something so hypothetical.

The question and answer session also involved improvisation. The School of Survival are so convincing as experts their answers seem almost embarrassingly obvious. One man asked ‘Exactly how big a threat are zombie midgets?’ which was instantly floored by Dr Dale, who explained that anything that attacks around the crotch area is never a good thing.

To me, the sketches which didn’t involve the audience were a tad weaker; and seemed to entail either people switching places or varying degrees of misunderstanding. I noticed some of the audience were thrilled, but the time it took to set up these laughs outweighed the result. I know the show is supposed to be merely preparation for a zombie apocalypse, but I would have loved to see a few more zombies or even a section with diagrams of anticipated zombie behaviour.

In spite of this, How to Survive a Zombie Apocalypse is a masterclass in audience fun. Any act that can bring an entire room of strangers to belly laughs without a cylinder of nitrous oxide, and then get them chanting affirmations together without threats or bribes, is something quite special indeed. I’m not convinced I’d be qualified to fend off a marauding zombie when the Apocalypse kicks off (they predict 2012), but if the School of Survival were around, I’d probably be chuckling too hard to care.

<< Vertigo   I am Google >>