“Tortured Souls” at Zombie Joe’s Underground Theatre Review – A Nightmare That Surrounds You
“Walk inside with your eyes close, count down from ten. When you reach zero, you may open your eyes.” Zero came, eyes were opened and what we saw was total darkness. Then… the voices came. This is the start of a new immersive show called “Tortured Souls” put on by Zombie Joe at Zombie Joe’s Underground Theatre.
Mike: What followed after that opening was 30 minutes of, in my opinion, witnessing, interacting with, and feeling tortured souls in Purgatory.
Russell: For that 30 minutes, the cast of “Tortured Souls” manages to achieve something almost magical… they create a nightmare. It is not a show about a nightmare… it IS a nightmare that gently surrounds the audience, slowly ushering them into darker and darker emotional places.
Mike: The performance gave me anxiety, fear, and paranoia. This show had a little bit of everything I love about Zombie Joe’s and his actors. There were things that reminded me of Urban Death. Things that reminded me of Blood Alley. Things that made me fall in love with this genre in the first place.
Russell: I agree completely with Mike’s interpretation. (Holy Past Sins, Batman! How often does that happen?!?!) This was, for me, also a glimpse into some twisted Purgatory as Mike indicates. Sins were revealed. Horrors were uncovered… but slowly and methodically. This was not an assault on the senses. This was seduction. Quite honestly, it took a few minutes to figure out the rules of this nightmare when the show first started. Soon, however, I became accustomed to the whispering in the dark and the lack of clear focus. The nightmare formed slowly and revealed its shape as the show moved forward. At first, the show felt distant in some manner. That soon shifted drastically.
Mike: This is an immersive show for Zombie Joe which, much like Brave the Dark (their first immersive show), you move around the theatre. Within Brave the Dark, you were moved from “station to station” to witness a scene, but with Tortured Souls, that is not that case. The majority of the time you are in the main theatre space and the characters come to and around you. You will still be moving around the space, going outside, and even laying down at one point, so make sure to dress comfortably.
Russell: Immersive pieces are fairly new to the Zombie Joe troupe, but they are truly offering a unique take on the genre. They are blessed with a space that encourages experimentation and innovation. Mike mentions the changing physical space of the show… the locations you are in and the physical positions you take inside the performance make this nightmare your own. Near the end, when numerous characters share their secrets with you… and they DO share… it becomes quite a harrowing sequence if you allow yourself to invest in the heartache, sadness and pain of what you witness.
Mike: What Russell just mentioned, was something new they tried within this production, and to me, it stole the show. The intimacy that this show gives you is a something refreshing and can be very challenging to make happen. It is brilliantly pulled off by this troupe. You can tell these actors are very comfortable and close with one another. You’ll recognize familiar faces from other Zombie Joe productions.
Russell: Yes! Intimacy is the key word. Mike points to the strongest aspect of the show, in my opinion. A story was whispered to me by an actor painfully saying goodbye to this world. Faces and bodies hovered near me, allowing me glimpses of what their lives had become before ending up here… the impression was that of a nightmare where numerous people were vying for my attention.
Mike: Overall, this is a GREAT show and another step in a new and promising direction for Zombie Joe and his crew.
Tortured Souls opens tonight and runs through March 25hth on Friday and Saturday nights (performances at 11:00pm and 11:45pm). For more information on Tortured Souls/Zombie Joe’s Underground Theatre, check out their website, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.