*This review contains a small spoiler, given with warning in Paragraph 4. If you wish to avoid the spoiler, skip to the following paragraph at the alert.*

The Montford Park Players’ 49th season production of Qui Nguyen’s Living Dead in Denmark features gore, plot twists, romance, and action that one would expect to find only in a Shakespearean play. A a world overtaken by zombies may be considered on the opposite end of the spectrum from Shakespeare, but Qui Nguyen’s clever play marries the two in a delightful combination that results in absolute hilarity.

The set itself, on the Hazel Robinson Amphitheatre, prepares the mood. Graffiti signs and bloodstained handprints litter the walls along with foreboding messages such as “The Devil waits for no one” and various expletives. Heavy metal music plays over the speakers as the audience settles into their seats. From the moment the audience sits down, there are hints of what is to come.

The plot begins with Ophelia (from Shakespeare’s Hamlet) waking up from a coma five years after her death to a world of zombies, but she is seemingly the only one not consumed with the need to eat brains. Later, Ophelia teams up with Juliet, Lady Macbeth (colloquially known as Lady M), and Horatio as they are led by their general, Fortinbras, to fight against the army of the undead. Puck, Titania, and the three witches from Macbeth are the opposing force led by the mysterious Zombie Lord. One lovely aspect of this play is the give-and-take of these characters from various stories. Inside jokes are sprinkled throughout as all the characters’ journeys intertwine in a post-apocalyptic world.

The play itself is certainly not appropriate for those under the age of 18, with crude jokes, expletives littered throughout, and battle scenes that result in excessive gore. But what more would you expect from a zombie apocalypse? While cliché at times, there are some well-placed jokes and stabs (pun intended) between the characters. *A slight spoiler alert:* the one questionable aspect of the story is the romantic involvement between Juliet (who is established at the beginning of the play as still being a teenager) and Lady M. The romance itself felt unnecessary and even inappropriate given the characters’ ages.

The cast of the Montford Park Players brought this play to life, with several exceptional performances, specifically: Jayden Parton (Puck), Sarah Felmet (Lady M), David Broshar (Rosencrantz), and Aaron Ybarra (Guildenstern). Parton, a recent high school graduate, displayed a mischievous and crude attitude as the fairy from A Midsummer Night’s Dream. His delivery caused uproars in the audience and his interaction with the Zombie Lord were hilarious. Felmet portrayed a blunt, forthcoming, and modern Lady M. Her dialogue was most indued with foul words and a commanding tone, but the leading lady from the Scottish Play shouldn’t be written or performed any other way. Delightful performances from Broshar and Ybarra were a personal favorite as the bumbling, brainless fools Rosencrantz and Guildenstern.

A special acknowledgement is deserved for Will Storrs (Laertes). In Act II, scene iv, a heartbreaking interaction between Laertes and Ophelia ensues. In a play so based on comedic moments, a serious situation can either be shocking or dreadfully cliché. Avoiding any such let-down, Will Storrs was able to successfully tug on the audience’s heartstrings in his dramatic moments. Without revealing the plot, this scene was most imperative in building up to the climax of the plot, and it was performed with incomparable delivery and tone.

The play is riddled with choreographed fight scenes and swordplay. As an audience member, it was thrilling to see the characters get physical with one another in many clever ways. Some of the actors didn’t “fight” quite convincingly, which was slightly distracting, but there were a couple exceptions: Jon Robinson (Zombie Lord) and Brooks Wallace (Horatio). The fight between these two characters was the most entertaining and most believable.

This production is worth attending if you’re a fan of Shakespeare, especially of modern interpretations. The dialogue is contemporary and easy to follow and invest in. It is a hilarious and highly enjoyable experience for any level of theatre lover (over age 18) with any range of Shakespearean knowledge. Living Dead in Denmark is a delightful outro to the Montford Park Player’s 49th season and a wonderful production to attend as Halloween nears!

Living Dead in Denmark continues through Sunday, October 31. For more details on this production, please view the sidebar.