“The Revenants”

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Trapped in a basement during a zombie apocalypse, Karen (Anne Westcott) and Gary (Carl Bradley Anderson) consider their options as they watch their infected spouses fall deeper into sickness in The Visceral Company’s production of “The Revenants,” playing through March 19 at the Whitmore-Lindley Theatre Center in North Hollywood.

Zombies are a curious lot; perhaps because they are the most misunderstood of monsters. Not much for conversation and lacking any table manners, their cravings for flesh can unnerve the most stalwart hero. What may be the most unsettling aspect is that they used to be human, which poses the question in “The Revenants”: by which point do we lose our humanity and become a soulless monster?

The story has a familiar tone: watch any George Romero to get the general idea or Shaun of the Dead for laughs. This time, two married couples find refuge in a basement, with horrific results: two of them are already infected. Gary (Carl Bradley Anderson) and Karen (Anne Westcott) must chain up their respected spouses Molly (Lara Fisher) and Joe (Rafael Zubizarreta, Jr.) or risk becoming infected. Alone with sparse provisions, Gary and Karen have more to confront than the relentless hunger of their betrothed — they have to face old questions, motives and desires.

Director Dan Spurgeon creates a vivid world of fright and tension with measured timing and blocking. Scott T. Barsotti’s script is the only weak spot. A little more focus and polish would have given the story a significant punch. The real stars of the production are Justin and Melissa Meyer for make-up and sets by Christine Bartsch and Michael Sadler. “The Revenants” raises some ethical quandaries that would be best discussed over dinner — no pun intended.

The Visceral Company presents “The Revenants” through March 19 at the Whitmore-Lindley Theatre Center located at 11006 Magnolia Blvd. in North Hollywood. For ticket information, visit www.thevisceralcompany.com.

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