“I held onto this a long time, but I can no longer walk amongst you all. You see, I had a dream a couple days ago where I had many friends and people wanted me around. I was dancing barefoot by the ocean, breathing in pure love. I’m just too sensitive for this world, I belong there. I want to live in that dream forever. And so, goodnight. Goodnight you beautiful people. Please understand. I love you.”
“I love you all.”
Tortured Souls at its heart is a glimpse into purgatory. Bodies wringing together: some in sexual delight, others in painful torment. But in execution, is the perfect mix of previous shows. By combining the immersive walkthrough elements of Brave the Dark with the gritty, artful, and shocking theater of Urban Death and Bloody Alley, Zombie Joe’s Underground has created one of their best shows yet.
The style remains as vignettes; each section focusing on a different aspect of a tortured soul. But don’t expect a passive theater performance—instead, the audience is given the opportunity to wander the location and watch the action up close. By immersing the audience—forcing them to become a part the play—the show becomes more intimate, more personal for the participant. While it does excel in being immersive, the show is not interactive–reinforcing the idea that you are merely glimpsing behind the curtain of the underworld. Furthermore, the cast takes the audience to places not yet explored by Zombie Joe’s Underground. Actors can be found high above you, below you crawling across the floor, or even dancing in the back alley. The event is constantly changing and evolving, keeping the audience unsuspecting and excited.
The themes of this show are ones that an audience has come to expect at Zombie Joe Undergrounds. Sin, pain, death, sexuality, and pleasure are all explored—but in different ways than before. By focusing more on evoking a feeling rather providing a glimpse into a story, the show feels a bit more surreal and frightening than ones in the past. The experience is further elevated by the live music. But the highlight is definitely the cast. The cast is exceptional, with wonderfully choreographed scenes, multiple costume changes, and some impressively creepy interactions. The most powerful scene for me was not one of shock or sex, but instead one where the cast came together to repeat one haunting phrase.
Tortured Souls is a beautiful tapestry formed by taking the best aspects of previous shows and weaving them together. It takes themes that are very familiar to the cast of Zombie Joe’s Underground and uses them to fully immerse the audience. Some are frightening, some are sexual, and some are beautiful—and they all work together. This is a success for Zombie Joe’s Underground and I look forward to seeing how they continue to evolve in the future.
Tortured Souls runs Friday and Saturday nights at 11pm and 11:45pm from February 17th to March 25th. For more information and tickets check out Zombie Joe’s Underground.