Theatre Review: ‘That Was Olivia Newton-John, You Bitch!’


Note: This review was posted on the KC Stage review system.

Sorority House of the Dead, written by Mitch Brian, directed by Ron Megee. Produced by Coterie at Night (Kansas City). First produced 2010. (Seen October 23, 2010.)

Going into Sorority House of the Dead, you know you’re not in for an evening of ‘typical’ theatre. From the giving of plastic covers to the front row for the ‘splatter effect’ to the announcement that sounds like a Mad Lib gone wrong, there’s the sense of being in it ‘just for the fun of it’ that is the marking of a Ron Megee show.

The show, set in 1987, is about three pledges at a sorority house — but not everything is as it seems. Filled with horror movie clichés and ’80s references (including the three main characters dressed in the 80s fashion of Desperately Seeking Susan Madonna, Joan Cusack’s geek from Sixteen Candles, and the shoulder-pads power girl who references Working Girl), the sense of fun that you feel just sitting in the space at The Living Room is what makes this show work.

While the special effects of the blood splatter (and the opening moment of tearing up a Girl Scout body) was definitely a high point, it was the ‘low budget’ special effects such as the montage and making the cast do a ‘rewind’ at one point that made it worth it (and the ‘letterbox format’ that let them bring in items from below). The only negative aspect of this was a door gag which was barely funny the first time, and was made the show grind to a halt the second time used.

In fact, over all, even though this show was barely an hour long, my only complaint was that the pacing was uneven. While most of the show was fast and furious, the times it did slow, it was a crawl — as if the cast somehow lost momentum and wasn’t sure where it went. Thankfully, those times were few and far between — and they got back on track fairly quickly.

If you’re looking for a fun Halloween outing, save your money from a haunted house in the Bottoms — and instead go see this show. It’s a hoot.

Sorority House of the Dead runs until October 31 at the Living Room. For more information, visit the Coterie Theatre’s website.

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