In the beloved Tony Award winning Broadway musical, My Fair Lady, Professor Henry Higgins accepts a bet to take an uncouth cockney flower girl, train her in speech and manners, and pass her off indistinguishable from a well bred Lady of high society inside of six months. No spoilers from me as to whether or not he succeeds but I know what you’re thinking. What if Professor Higgins had been given a real challenge? What if Eliza Doolittle had been a zombie?
Well, welcome to the London of My Fair Zombie, where zombie attacks are the norm, roaming the streets in packs at night, and where, for the living, dealing with death is just a way of life. An extended opening song and scene is followed by one such attack, resultings in Higgins saving Eliza from being put down and the bet begins.
While there are certainly some elements of the show that could use some shoring up, My Fair Zombie delivers on its promise of silly absurdist camp. If the mere thought got your attention (“Hey, a show about Zombies!”) and if silly camp is your thing, then you won’t be disappointed.
Could the story have been tighter? Sure. It only lightly touched on the themes of its source material and only did so in a shallow way. Could some of the dialogue have been sharper, some of the songs been punchier, and some of the supporting characters sported more interesting characterizations? Again, sure. The bigger question is whether that really matters. Your mileage will vary, as always, but with a show carrying the title My Fair Zombie, those things are bonuses and not the core reason you’re in the audience.
You’re in the audience to laugh at ridiculous situations and songs and My Fair Zombie will deliver those laughs. Some of the highlights include a couple of great bits at the cemetery and most laughed at songs include Balls or He’s a Zombie Now. (Note: Those are my song titles, not necessarily theirs, as no song listing was in the program or available online.)
Mainly though, you’re in the audience for the zombies. And in that respect (and in all respects, really) Robin Hodge owns this show with her laugh out loud physicality and complete commitment to zombie Eliza Dolittle. From her first feral attempts at learning to speak under Higgins’ (played as a fantastic asshole by Lawrence Evenchick) tutelage and through her personal quest to be a better zombie, Hodge’s energy and embodiment are what give My Fair Zombie its life. (Ironically?)
On the whole, as I summed up above, My Fair zombie is a silly, campy, fun affair that — if this is your thing — you will almost certainly be entertained by.
But that’s just my opinion and I’d love to hear what you think? Did My Fair Zombie leave you in stitches or did it make your brains hurt? What had you laughing the most? Join the discussion and let me know in the comments below.
My Fair Zombie runs until Saturday May 7th. From what I hear there are limited tickets available for Saturday evening but plenty still up for grabs for Saturday matinee. Full info: http://thegladstone.ca