By Catherine Wagley
By Channing Sargent
By L.A. Weekly critics
By Amanda Lewis
By Catherine Wagley
By Carol Cheh
By Keegan Hamilton
By Bill Raden
The end of language signifying the end of life is driven home in Urban Death, two-dozen wordless, visual tableaux, accompanied by Christopher Reiner's original music score, and presented by Zombie Joe's Underground, late nights every Saturday.
Jana Wimer directs the almost entirely glib complication of goth-horror parodies, lit by Adam Neubauer in sudden blasts of light but mostly engulfed in shadow. Jeremy Gladen is featured in the production's strongest scenes, one as a cocky asshole in the midst of text-messaging while crossing the street. We hear car tires screech, then an awful thump as he slams into the theater's back wall, his eyes roll upward and blood cascades out his mouth. Even as he slithers and trembles down the theater wall to his death, he clutches his cell and continues to text his final words.
We see Rhea Richardson in underwear, gagged and bound with electrical tape on the floor, and whimpering. That's the entire five-second image, lingering somewhere between snuff pornography and the mockery of it.
A couple of sketches are dedicated to one actor who's a specialist at screaming. In one five-second scene, he lies on his stomach atop a stool, in his underwear, arms extended as though falling from an airplane, screaming. This was his second or third screaming tableaux, and the audience of mostly people in their 20s and 30s, got the joke head-on.
There are scenes dedicated solely to bleeding and vomiting, depicted with the cinematic veracity of stage effects. Even at a little more than an hour, the cumulative effect includes redundancy, amidst respect commanded by an ensemble that enters the macabre and its quivering death throes with a deranged commitment, and commitment to derangement. The audience's howls of laughter signify the distancing mechanism from the visceral discomfort, which is the evening's greatest virtue.
THE GOOD BOOK OF PEDANTRY AND WONDER | By MOBY POMERANCE | Presented by the THEATRE @ BOSTON COURT and CIRCLE X THEATRE COMPANY | Boston Court, 70 N. Mentor Ave., Pasadena | Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m.; through Aug. 29 | (626) 683-6883
URBAN DEATH | Presented by ZOMBIE JOE'S UNDERGROUND | ZJU Theater Group, 4850 Lankershim Blvd., N. Hlywd. | Sat., 11 p.m.; through Oct. 30 | (818) 202-4120.