|Night of the Living Dead
8 p.m. Fridays and Saturday through Nov. 16
8 p.m. Sundays through Oct. 27
Plan 9 from Outer Space
9:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays through Nov. 16
(No show Saturday, Oct. 26)
110 E. Walnut Ave., Fullerton
714.526.7070 :: mavericktheater.com
Here’s a thought: Instead of spending a small fortune at your local cineplex satisfying your Halloween thrill with the latest sub-moronic, soul-poisoning slasher flick or crass Hollywood re-tread, support your local economy more this weekend and get your creature double feature at Fullerton’s appropriately named Maverick Theater.
This month is really the high season for the little theater. Its eighth annual run of Night of the Living Dead has now found a twisted dance partner for October weekends in Plan 9 from Outer Space.
While their staging of Living Dead is a classic of a classic, Plan 9 is a hilarious send-up of what is routinely considered one of the worst films ever made. The funniest part of the Plan 9 production is how much it actually relies on the original.
The iconic George Romero zombie film also requires little artistic license to forge an unusual and great stage production. Living Dead thrives off its tight focus on the doomed group of people holed up in a Pennsylvania farm house in 1968. In fact, the black walls of the farmhouse set imply a draining away of everything except the characters. Like they’ve wandered into a void or pit from which they’ll never escape.
Both casts benefit from their supply of company regulars who know exactly what to bring to each production, and each production has a large carryover of cast members from last October. Living Dead gets a tweaking each year and over time, the story, dialogue and requisite zombie effects have only gotten stronger.
Plan 9 seems to have tightened up its second act, while allowing the cast some room to improvise, much as they do in the Maverick’s annual Christmas production Santa Claus Conquers the Martians. The result is an improved staging, more sure of itself than last year. Standouts are Spencer Douglas as the narrator Criswell and Jeffrey Rockey as both the fey alien ruler and crusty army general, as well as Sarah Buster Brooks as ditzy stewardess, Edith, and frustrated female alien, Tanna.
Living Dead returning lead David P. Lewis is a vulnerable and realistic man of 1968, a moment in real American history when the country was truly coming apart, and he is neither action hero nor hapless victim and offers a quiet center to the storm around him.
Yet, it’s Hannah Noshirvan who is Maverick’s October Scream Queen. As the traumatized Barbara in Living Dead and perpetually nightgown-clad idiotic female horror movie stereotype Paula Trent in Plan 9, she gets to go in vastly different directions playing what are supposed to be two similar movie character types, yet one has tongue planted firmly in cheek and the other is as serious as a heart attack, with a healthy amount of vocal fireworks for each.
The productions have become hot tickets because both are essential, irresistible Halloween season theater events that bear repeated viewing – and both productions are just over an hour, performed on either side of the theater and can be seen on the same night if you plan accordingly. Yes, a more vivid, loud and spectacular horror fest can be had at your local movie house for a greater price, but definitely not one that continues to be this much fun.