Blistered Hands and Bloody Mouths

Stage horror can be many things. In the hands of a master, it can tap the unspoken nightmares of an audience to power an allegory about life's dystopian realities. Then there's the kind presented here by playwright-actor Sam LaFrance -- a Grand Guignol thrill ride of ratcheting grotesquerie, viscerally shocking switchbacks and plunging moral depravity that has no higher ambition than to provoke screams and laughter. Don't worry too much about plot -- everything you need to know about the lowlifes who inhabit LaFrance's twisted Southern Gothic world is summed up by Valorie Hubbard (who also directs) in her priceless, opening rictus of terror at the news that Ray (LaFrance) has somehow escaped from death row and is planning a return. Ray's imminent homecoming isn't good news, particularly for his ex, Millie (Anastasia Charalambous), an unnaturally cool blonde who has been plotting her own escape back to her native London. If LaFrance springs his suspense on the early side and then tries to tie off too many psychological loose ends, the result is still an entertaining -- and literally jaw-dropping -- blend of spilled blood and the blackest of comedy. Zombie Joe's Underground, 4850 Lankershim Blvd., N. Hlywd.; Tues., 8:30 p.m.; Sun., 7 p.m.; through Aug. 25. (818) 202-4120,
Tuesdays, 8:30 p.m.; Sundays, 7 p.m. Starts: Aug. 6. Continues through Aug. 25, 2013

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Zombie Joe's Underground Theatre

4850 Lankershim Blvd.
North Hollywood, CA 91601



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