4/5 Stars

★★★★ A Wild Night of Zombies and Comedy

Sam Lewes reviews Living a Little at the King's Head Theatre
Zombie movies are almost as common as voting these days, zombie plays probably less so. Off those which do make it in front of audiences, most make sure to show you the horror of the undead themselves – often promising a frightfest of blood and gore. Living a Little doesn’t do that. Instead it fashions for itself a rather unique space in that crowded cultural landscape, as a fun, dark comedy bringing bromance to the World War Z age.
Rob and Paul are two Scottish housemates determined to make the most of their time post ‘day 1’ of the zombie outbreak. After all, as Rob argues, ‘what’s the point of surviving the zombie apocalypse if you’re not going to live a little?’ However, after unzipping his bum bag, preparing a small bottle of lube and getting settled in front of the TV, Paul is interrupted by an outsider, Penelope (Pearl Appleby), who unleashes her ninja skills on him mid-wank.
Living a Little is a fast-moving play, at times a little frantic but always full of energy and seemingly propelled along by Finlay Bain’s turn as Rob – a juvenile, rude and somewhat perverted man who considers ‘living a little’ post-apocalypse to mean cocktail creations and class As. Paul Thirkel’s Paul is the extremely camp ‘straight man’ to the boisterous Rob, pining after his missing girlfriend whilst hitting most gay clichés in the first 30 minutes alone.

Together the boys do their best to entertain and cheer up their new guest, who hasn’t had the luxury of electricity, showers, or basic human decency whilst surviving the dangerous outdoors. Penelope’s seen things you see, and, as in every zombie movie, it turns out that ‘maybe the zombies aren’t the worst guys after all… maybe it was people all along?’ Whilst that message may be pure Walking Dead, the play thankfully has a voice of its own and pulls up the soapbox to give those who sit back and allow the world to go to shit without taking action a good kicking. That Appleby is able to deliver a grandstanding speech about not hiding from the problems of the day without sounding preachy is impressive, and cushioned by the fact that she’s talking to two tipsy, swearing Scotsmen who are determined to do just that.

And that this itself is possible without losing momentum or cutting the laughter short is a testament to the script (written by co-lead Bain) and the directing skill of Jordan Murphy. Before the script veers towards a somewhat serious end, there are some genuine laugh out loud moments, with UniLAD wannabe Rob explaining what ‘real feminism’ is and a joyous, slow-motion scene of the 3 cast members gurning their way through spiked drinks, as spotlights blare and opera serenades them.

In the end, the trio’s wild night has real consequences but despite its darker notes this remains an uplifting play – telling audiences to change the world whilst you can and always support your mates through thick and thin… and zombies.

Sam Lewes

Living a Little plays at the King’s Head Theatre until May 14th, 2017.

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