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Twisted Love Stories, Ghost Hunting Spoof Make for Fun Watching at Zombie Joe's

One production is a love story with magicians and bondage, while the other is a spoof of the horror franchise 'Paranormal Activity.'

If you’re looking for a trip through twin realities in a play, your destination should be Zombie Joe’s Underground Theatre Group’s production of the World Premiere of Robert Riemer’s The Fainting Couch, running every Saturday at 8:30pm through Nov. 3 in the NoHo Arts District.

The play within a play celebrates Zombie Joe's 20th anniversary season and helps the audience realize the imagination and vision writing a play requires.

This love story about the emotional relationships between a boss, magician, two fools and a ballerina, each struggling to escape from the bondage of their pre-determined fate, is unique in style and substance and requires the theatergoer to answer the question, “what is art and how far will it go to emulate reality?”

This sexually-charged tale of love misplaced is written with passion and grace by Robert Riemer. No stone is left unturned in sprinkling us with the fairy dust of a play gone awry and the four characters attempting to find their way back to their own rock.

Director Zombie Joe creates a life and environment for Riemer’s characters and words that enhance both.

The action, always lasting an hour, is fast-paced and thought-provoking. The work, though it may not be everyone’s cup of tea, is unique and remarkable in its own way.

Natalie Hyde (The Ballerina) is convincing and realistic if not somewhat one-dimensional.

Donna Noelle Ibale (The Small Fool) is expressive and energetic in a challenging role. Ricky Lacorte (The Large Fool) spans the emotions in a very funny, yet tragic portrayal.

But it is Rehyan Rivera (The Boss/Magician) who runs away with the show. His presence and sheer delight in the power and majesty of his capabilities are a joy to behold. Hopefully, Rivera will grace many more stages in Los Angeles.

All in all, ZJU proves once again that it can handle just about any material, regardless the subject matter. The innovative theater company emerges triumphant and ready to tackle the world and all its softer and rougher edges.

In the second part of this Saturday evening, Zombie Joe Underground's World Premiere production of Thomas J. Misuraca’s The ParaAbnormals, running Saturdays at 11pm through October 20., hit a home run.

A spoof on the mega-grossing, popular film series, Paranormal Activity, this story of three enterprising friends who venture into the hazardous world of ghost-hunting, ill-prepared to neutralize the onslaught of evil spirits, demons and the diabolical plan of a rival psychic is a head-turner.

The crisp writing is complimented by Sebastian Munoz’s intelligent and site-specific direction and a universe of inventive sound effects and technical wizardry. 

Stand-out performances by Tucker Matthews (Chuck/Steve) and Lauren Parkinson (Chai Tea/Chuck), he in his characterization and she in her bold statement, add to a work sturdy on its feet and worthy of laughter and fear from audiences of any age.

Zombie Joe’s Underground Theatre Group

4850 Lankershim Blvd., North Hollywood, CA 91601

Reservations: (818) 202-4120. Tickets: $15     

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