Friday, November 4, 2022

GUEST REVIEW: "Living Dead in Denmark" Not Your Mother’s Shakespeare

By Jane Primerano, 
Guest Critic

Call it Shakespeare in the Dark, All’s Well That Dies Well, Three Gentlewomen of Zombieland, but Living Dead in Denmark is not your mother’s Shakespeare.

One wonders if the Bard is spinning in his grave after the premiere of the NEXT Stage Repertory production of the Qui Nguyen zombie-themed play at the Sitnik Theatre of the Lackland Performing Arts Center on the campus of Centenary University on Thursday, Nov. 3.

This reviewer thinks the ghost of the Bard would be fine with the Halloween-ish hijinks perpetrated on and by the dead from his plays.

Since Shakespeare killed off so many characters, the choice might have been hard, but Nguyen was spot-on in bringing back Lady Macbeth, Ophelia and Juliet.

The gals were recruited by Fortinbras to take on the living dead lead by a mysterious zombie lord. Just the kind of thing Shakespeare would have written...

The stage fighting was the best part of the play. Always a treat on the Centenary stage, the choreography was ballet perfect, and it felt good seeing the girls dispatch bigger men, including Rosencranz and Guildenstern and a troop of Ninjas. No clue which play the Ninjas were supposed to be from.

The play would have benefitted from more Shakespeare quotes and less profanity, but it was very funny. And Lady M’s comment “I’m rounding third and headed for scared s---lessville” was priceless. They contemplate abandoning the fight for “a really fortified strip mall. In Switzerland.” But they stick with it.

Horatio accuses the ladies of acting like teenage girls at one point and Juliet and Ophelia remind him that’s what they are. “I can buy beer,” Lady Macbeth retorts.

Tatiana is allied with Fortinbras. Or is she? Whatever, Audrey Janzten did a solo with Bernadette Peters panache. And the Fairie Queen lets you know “magic is pure, humanity is evil.”

The three protagonists, Claire Finegan as Ophelia, Emily Kurnides as Lady M and Kayla Yepez as Juliet were perfectly cast and their stage fighting was some of the best I’ve ever seen. Even after the double-take when Paris Hilton made an appearance. Don’t ask.

Naturally, there were plot twists (wait till you see who the zombie lord is) and unexpected moments – a Law & Order “clunk, clunk” – including a surprise solo from Caliban, who looked rather like an unkempt ailanthus.

The use of video for some backstory was clever, especially when they make fun of the Dutch.

The play runs through Monday, Nov. 7, with shows at 8 p.m. Friday, Nov. 4, and Saturday, Nov. 5, and 2 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 6, and 7 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 7. Tickets are available at