There’s so much I can’t tell you about Zombie Joe’s “Blood Alley Christmas,” playing tonight (Friday, December 14) and tomorrow night (Saturday, December 15) at Zombie Joe’s Underground Theater in North Hollywood. I mean, I can tell you that curtain time is 11 p.m., tickets are $15, the hour-long show is said to be for ages 16+ but trust me it’s more like 18+, it’s directed by Elif Savas and Zombie Joe himself, it’s got a driving original live score by Kevin Van Cott (who does double duty by acting as the cop-ringmaster of Blood Alley), and it’s one of the most unique and visionary theatrical experiences in Los Angeles. But there’s just a hell of a lot that can’t really be told in a review!
The “Blood Alley” and “Urban Death” shows at ZJUT are a long-running series of sketch/vignette/blackout programs designed to simulate a creepy, disturbing and often horrific dream state in the audience. They always provoke the viewer — sometimes to laughter (there was a lot of dark comedy in this Christmas outing), sometimes to fear, sometimes to disgust (I’ve got a strong stomach, but there’s this one blackout with spit in it…), and sometimes to tears (the very brief scene of the two homeless people sharing an apple is wordless and heartbreaking). There is something to make you think and something to entertain you, and yes, quite a few things to upset you. Or to push the boundaries, if you’re more open to it. Things change within minutes or seconds, and there’s a lot to take in.
Everything — from flesh-eating corpses to Santa humping a guy by the Christmas tree to faceless masses of naked flesh (there is a ton of artistic nudity in this and other “Blood Alley” and “Urban Death” shows) — takes place in the small, narrow, minimalist space of ZJUT, presided over by Kevin Van Cott’s cop (and his multitalented musical efforts). The cop is there to keep things moving along, to stop things at will, and to stand in for the dreamer’s — the audience’s — own inner voice saying, “Get outta here!”
It’s all performed with conviction, vision, fearlessness and creativity — which are all things good theater needs. “Blood Alley Christmas” isn’t for people who want to go see a nice matinee of a road company performance of “H.M.S. Pinafore” or yet another revival of Arthur Miller, but it is for those who want their stage shows raw and searing. Go see Zombie Joe’s “Blood Alley Christmas” tonight or tomorrow (or both), it’s a gift you can give yourself.