Theatre review: Deadinburgh, Edinburgh

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IT’S difficult to imagine a more perfect venue than Summerhall for an event like Deadinburgh, the big, loud, challenging live zombie movie – with mass audience participation – being staged there this weekend by London-based LAS Theatre and The Gate Worlwide, a global creative agency.

Deadinburgh - Summerhall, Edinburgh

Rating: * * * *

On one hand, there’s the sheer horror-movie thrill of a zombie plague story played out around the looming Summerhall complex, as the audience – divided into six groups, each with a different experience – is herded along by shouting, panicky soldiers; we catch occasional glimpses of the advancing army of infected zombies, devouring a corpse in the yard or attacking the troops.

Then there’s the sheer political rightness of the setting, around the building’s bleak back courts, as we realise how quickly we surrender our freedom in times of crisis. And finally, there’s the history of the building – the old Royal Dick Vet College – as a centre of science; so that as the audience is drawn into the debate about the response to the crisis, we are led into laboratories and lecture rooms to hear teams of real-life scientists from leading UK institutions explain the options available.

In terms of theatre, Deadinburgh is a slightly chaotic and shouty experience. It achieves something special, though, in so effectively patrolling the boundary between straightforward horror-movie excitement and the powerful ethical and strategic questions raised.

And while there’s plenty of talk about bridging the gap between arts and science, this is a show that actually does it; and provides a good, exhausting, thought-provoking night out into the bargain.