Latest Between Shifts play hammers home the horror 

Pontypool is a gory tale of zombies and talk radio

click to enlarge PHOTO SUBMITTED - Scary stuff Darren McPeake in Between Shifts' production of Pontypool.
  • PHOTO submitted
  • Scary stuff Darren McPeake in Between Shifts' production of Pontypool.

Do you like your theatre with a touch of creepiness and horror?

Squamish's Between Shifts Theatre Company thought you might, especially at this time of year, and is aiming to leave its audience quaking with Halloween fight in its latest production, Pontypool.

Directors Lisa Schaer calls Pontypool "an extremely well-written story" by playwright Tony Burgess, based on his novel Pontypool Changes Everything.

"Pontypool is a psychological thriller. It's the first time that Between Shifts has done a Halloween show. It was chosen to open around Halloween," Schaer says.

"It's very suspenseful, a little bit gory and scary. And definitely a lot of fun."

Asked about the amount of fun they had behind-the-scenes in making Pontypool,

Schaer adds: "Interestingly, we're not 100 per cent sure how scary it is because of that.

"We think it is, and we're trying to make it scary, to make it different from what we're used to. We've done a lot of comedies and dramas. It's a departure for Between Shifts and it was a cool decision by the board to do this."

Schaer said there is also humour, a mainstay of the horror genre, and that Between Shifts audiences particularly love funny theatre.

"They love to come out and have a good laugh," she says.

Pontypool tells the story of shock jock Grant Mazzy, who has lost his DJ gig on a big city station and can only find a new job on an early morning show in Pontypool, Ont., which broadcasts from a church basement.

When reports start piling up of people changing their behaviour and horrendous acts of violence, Mazzy and his crew find themselves trapped. Then it is discovered that the behaviour comes from a virus that is spread through the English language.

"Everyone is going about their daily business, when they suddenly hear that the office of Dr. Mendez has been surrounded by zombies. Their reporter in the field, Kate Loney, describes what she sees. Being a radio station, they are spreading the infection when they don't know it," Schaer says.

"We hope that people will find it shocking and kind of gory."

The cast includes Mount FM DJ Darren McPeake as Grant Mazzy, Janice Hayden as Sydney Briar, Avril Hanlon as Laurel-Ann Drummond, Kathryn Daniels as Kate Loney, Myrna Iaconetti-Bush as Dr. Mendez, and Glenn Gentil as Nigel Healing.

The crew is also made up of award-winning Between Shifts volunteers.

"Everyone on our crew is so talented. The cast, too, is just phenomenal," Schaer says.

Pontypool is being performed at the Eagle Eye Community Theatre from Oct. 18 to 21, at 8 p.m. Ticket prices range from $5.50 to $21.50, and can be purchased at www.betweenshifts.ca. Schaer says it is not suitable for young children, though those over the age of 13 should be able to handle the fear.

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