Oct 24-25, 8pm; Oct 26-27, 2pm & 8pm
The Bus Stop Theatre 2203 Gottingen Street
T en years ago, when Dan Bray and Colleen MacIsaac began helming Villain's Theatre (then known as Vile Passéist), they mainly aimed to stage plays by Shakespeare's unsung peers. But, after mounting many a show by Marlowe, Middleton and other playwrights in Shakespeare's shadow, their mandate gradually shifted.
Now, this Halloween season, the Villains are really letting their hair down with Zomblet—Bray's "75 percent hilarious, 25 percent spooky" zombie-fied adaptation of Hamlet.
"It draws a lot on the '80s horror movie vibe, but it's also just kind of a fun and cheeky version of Hamlet," says Bray. "There's lots of Hamlet jokes, there's lots of references that the eagle-eyed Shakespeare fan will observe, but really it's for people who just love Halloween and comedies, too."
MacIsaac says Zomblet's large ensemble cast is key to the piece.
"When there's zombies attacking you, you have to get a lot more involved with the people around you. I think it takes all the characters out of their own heads and allows them to really play with each other."
A co-production with Terra Novella Theatre, the Zomblet team also includes "an actual magician," Vincenzo Ravina and choreographer Rebecca Wolfe, who helped the cast nail their zombie gait.
Citing The Simpsons and The Muppets as inspiration, Bray says the show is "the most fun" he's had in rehearsals. And anyone fearful of Shakespeare-speak needn't worry—while some of the Bard's text remains (sometimes in an updated iteration), Bray and MacIsaac say the language of Zomblet is very contemporary.
"I think if people are familiar with Hamlet, they'll be thinking about the play in a new way and have some new thoughts about it," says MacIsaac. "And if they aren't, I think this is a really wonderful introduction. It's going to be quite the spectacle."