REVIEW: The Suitcase Royale Present ZOMBATLAND

Junkyard sets and a caravan full of twisted humour 

By Jen Coles

As if regular zombies weren’t bad enough, now we have to worry about the dreaded ‘zombat’- a zombie wombat! Such is the premise of Zombatland, a brilliant, fast-paced and hilarious tale featuring three of the four Suitcase Royale gents playing a multitude of characters.

 Set at the ‘Blue Lagoon’ caravan park, the Major Grogan and his brother, cricketing legend Darren Grogan, are attempting to manage the park amidst the zombie wombat attack terror. Having already lost two of the park residents within the first thirty seconds of the show, Darren attempts to move the Major, suggesting they flee to Tahiti. However, when the Major refuses, and when the zombats appear to be moving in, all seems lost- until the arrival of the mysterious ‘Stranger’ and his crumpet gun. What follows is an epic journey of rescue, adventure, hilarity…and large, fuzzy zombats.

Clearly taking some cues from classic zombie movies, ‘Zombatland’ manages to create an atmosphere of humour and fear, switching between the two depending on the situation. The use of media to enhance this was genius; the audience was greeted with a sea of zombat red eyes, which blinked on and off. The soundtrack (also created by the Royale troupe) was a mixture of outback swamp sounds and zombat screams, all giving a sense of isolated fear that the audience really felt. Not content with only that, the three actors also performed live (and in character) original songs to explain and discuss the plot, and occasionally ran to the band section to provide background music. This was even referred to in the script: “I can hear pretty ominous double bass going on!” And on top of that, they also used puppetry, a projector, rotating set pieces, various sounds and voice enhancers to add to the performance. A huge mention also goes to the crew, whose lighting and technical prowess helped both manage and add to Royale’s vision.

Zombatland is an absolute triumph of cross-media performance, with the performers themselves being completely charming and hilarious. It is an absolute must-see for quality entertainment, and my only question is…Where can I buy the DVD?

Zombatland premiered Wed 14-Sun 18th March, 2012 at the Arts House, North Melbourne Town Hall.

The show was conceived and written by the Suitcase Royale (Joseph O’Farrell, Miles O’Neill, Tom Salisbury and Glen Walton).

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