The Garage Theatre in Long Beach isn’t all that impressive from the outside; in fact, it’s barely a hole in the wall. Clearly a converted business along a street of businesses, it would be easy to miss if you weren’t looking for it, looking almost like a dark secret. When we get inside, we see a couple rows of folding chairs, and a set of large, bloody curtains cutting off half the room. The floor is sticky, and they’re selling ponchos at the box office up front.
If this sounds like it’s going somewhere sleazy, relax. I’m just talking about a showing of Evil Dead: The Musical.
As a huge fan of the Evil Dead franchise (especially the cheesy first film, before things got all slick and quippy), this play’s been on my radar for years, but as it’s never really hit it as big as a lot of other off Broadway shows, I never thought I’d get the opportunity to see it. Thank god for the Halloween season, though, and people willing to offer entertainments beyond usual jump scare haunted houses.
Now, here we come to a bit of a difficult situation, as I’ve never really written a theatrical review before. So, in this case, I’m going to comment based on what I thought of the show itself, and what I thought of this particular performance I saw.
As well, the play is a solid retelling of the first two Evil Dead movies, with a little Army of Darkness thrown in for good measure. The original trilogy of films is notorious for its poor canon and constantly retelling the same story due to various rights issues making footage from previous films difficult to get the rights to, and the play condenses them well within one, funny timeline. And yes, the tree scene is still intact (and due to the nature of this particular theatre, happened about six inches in front of us), though is way more tasteful than its usual film incarnations.
As well, how can you not love a play with a major part for a singing, wall-mounted moose head?
The production itself in this tiny theatre was also fantastic. They made the most of a bloody curtain and half a cabin set, getting a ton of mileage from almost nothing. Being a tiny theatre with only thirty seats, and an Evil Dead production at that, the ponchos they sold up front proved to be necessary. Numerous things, from demons to babies to a whole lot of blood would fly at the audience, and if you’re sitting in the front row (which you really should do for a show like this), you will get wet. Very wet.
So, you know, don’t wear anything you wouldn’t mind getting dirty.
Without it, I'd probably look like I belonged on an episode of Forensic Files.
A fun, trippy, bloody night at the theatre, I would highly recommend this show to anyone who loves the Evil Dead or enjoys the theatre and Halloween events.
Hail to the king, baby!
-- Matt Carter
(We know there's a lot of Matt Carter's online you could spend your time with, so thanks for hanging around this one!)