Aotea Square, Auckland

12/04/2013 - 27/04/2013

Production Details

What will you do to survive?  

If your life was on the line, would you fight? Would you fly? Would you risk it all to save another?

In 2013 a deadly virus devastates the Land of the Long White Cloud. A plague spreads, the undead rise, Apocalypse descends. Military outposts are set up in an attempt to control the outbreak. It is futile. Cities fall, overridden by those infected with the ‘Z’ virus.

Here, at the beginning of the end, a final outpost remains: Aotea Square, Auckland City. The outpost is occupied by a skeleton crew of soldiers holding on in the hope of evacuation. When a broadcast brings a crowd of survivors, all must band together to ensure survival.

In life there are choices but in the apocalypse every choice is life or death.  

An immersive, interactive theatre experience, not for the faint hearted, Apocalypse Z is a cutting-edge journey of survival and the human spirit, immersing the audience within the madness of a zombie holocaust. Told in real time, Apocalypse Z is performed in a purpose built, fenced-off military zone in Auckland’s town centre, Aotea Square.

‘When the audience arrive they will immediately be thrust into the role of survivors who have gathered in hope of being transported to safety.’ Says Creative Producer Charlie McDermott, ‘We will ask them to accept challenges that will affect the outcome of the show and to make life and death choices. Choices that ultimately reveal their true selves’.

People love scary movies. They love rollercoasters. In Royale Productions’ new play, Apocalypse Z, this is taken to the extreme. A complete world is created for the play to exist in. Not only are there the traditional ‘thrills and spills’ expected of the zombie genre but the play delves deeper; when the safe house is breached the audience will be called to aid the cast in re securing their safety. 

When cast members get attacked they’ll need to help stem the flow of blood. When the power goes down, they will need to get it back up and running. When the transporter loses its way, they will need to guide it. When a survivor is bitten they must decide their fate – allow them the safety of company until they ‘turn’ or cast them out for their final minutes of life.

‘We want to seriously unsettle the audience and give them something totally different to the conventional theatrical experience.’

Through AV, set design, lighting, costumes and props a truly authentic world is created and the audience is invited in… and then their world is turned upside down. It’s not a haunted house; it’s not a role-playing game. It’s a play, albeit a new, fresh take on the medium. Interactive/immersion theatre removes the boundaries normally associated with theatrical performance; the fourth wall is removed. From the moment the play begins, the audience become the ‘survivors’ in the story.

Apocalypse Z will transport the audience from being spectators who watch a production passively to actually experiencing what is happening around them.

‘We want people to be involved but we also want to make this terrifying ride as comfortable as possible, audience members choose to be involved as much or as little as they want.’ 

Apocalypse Z is the brainchild of David Van Horn and Simon London, joined by theatrical powerhouses Andrew Foster, Charlie McDermott and Beth Allen to bring this exciting and challenging project to life. Apocalypse Z promises to deliver a unique and unprecedented theatrical experience for the 21st century.

‘Apocalypse Z is a totally new experience for Aucklanders. We have created an interactive theatrical Zombie Apocalypse and we are really excited. We want to bring young audiences, young men especially, to theatre and we want them to be excited by it. But most of all we want to tell a great story.’

Apocalypse Z, What will you do to survive?

Apocalypse Z is on in Aotea Square
from 12 – 27 April.
Monday – Wednesday 7.30pm,
Thursday – Saturday at 7.30pm and 9.30pm (No show Sunday).
Tickets are $40 Adult, $35 Concession, $33 Groups 6+, $28 Child 13 – 17years, $30 Student 18+.
This show is restricted R13.
Tickets are available from the Aotea Centre Box Office, or 0800BUYTICKETS or www.buytickets.co.nz

Fasitua Amosa:  Nelson
Phil Brown:  Carver
Lauren Gibson:  Jenny
Ash Jones:  Xavier
Simon London:  Robin
David Van Horn:  Adam
Cartier Matthews and Ella Ward Smythe:  Olive

Direction / Design:  Andrew Foster 
Production / Technical Design:  Brad Gledhill 
Production / Stage Management:  Stacey Donaldson
Producers:  Beth Allen and Charlie McDermott
Associate Producer:  Oliver Rosser 
Assistant Stage Manager:  Sophie Bloomfield  
Makeup / Special Effects Design:  Shay Lawrence
Special Effects Assistant:  Hayley Oliver
Script Advisor:  Pip Hall
Stunt Advisor:  Glen Levy
Graphic Design:  Oliver Rosser
Costume Design:  Charlie Baptist
Operator:  Rory Maguire

Zomcrew at The Edge: 
Programming Manager, Arts:  Craig Cooper
Producer, Development Programmes:  Vanessa Thompson
Publicity:  Alex Ellis
Event Manager  E Ticketing:  Adam Dauphin
Technical Event Coordinator:  Julie Towson
Theatre Marketing Executive:  Roxie Haines  

The Stationary Dead

Review by James Wenley 16th Apr 2013

So, the Zombie Apocalypse is finally upon us, but it has arrived with more of a low moan than a blood-lusting scream.

Royale Productions’ high-concept Apocalypse Z – written by Simon London and David Van Horn and directed by Andrew Foster – has barricaded itself securely within Aotea Centre. The square is host to one of the few refuges yet to fall to the onslaught of the “infected”, a last hope for we lucky few remaining survivors to be airlifted to the safe zone.

Feeding into the contemporary mania for all things Zombie, and selling itself with buzzwords like “interactive” and “immersive theatrical experience”, Z has run an impeccable promotional campaign that has even included a zombie reporter reading the news. Z, however, has oversold itself on two fronts. First, there’s a practical issue of audience numbers and space. Second, expectations built high, the pay off needs more flesh and braaaiiins. [More


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Theatre of Horrors as zombies invade

Review by Paul Simei-Barton 15th Apr 2013

Audience members find themselves cast as B-movie extras and interactive drama hits a new level.  

The growing trend towards interactive theatre is thrown into overdrive in a show that invites you to immerse yourself in the always hazardous task of surviving a zombie apocalypse. 

All the action takes place behind the barricades of a makeshift containment facility, and the imaginative identification that grips spectators of any engaging narrative is taken to a different level as audience members find themselves cast as extras for a B-grade horror flick. [More


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Be prepared to get frightened in a whole new, bloody fun, way

Review by Stephen Austin 14th Apr 2013

Zombies are ubiquitous in popular culture at the moment. Books, film adaptations, video games, TV series and even children’s animations, they’re so plentiful and nigh-exhaustive you’d think there would be nothing new left to explore within this area of the horror genre.

And you’d be (pardon the pun) dead wrong.

Apocalypse Z is a new immersive zombie experience happening right in the heart of Auckland. Down the far end of Aotea Square a compound has been constructed out of shipping containers and fortified fences, with armed guards and scientific personnel, as a safe haven to the survivors of the impending zombie apocalypse that has hit the city (and, we’re told soon after, the world). 

We’re cattle-herded out of our urban comfort, into this setting by a team of trained weary professionals who have managed to keep themselves safe and promise to get us away from the approaching madness, into a waiting quarantine station. Poked and prodded, we have to pass a bunch of tests and be disinfected to make sure we’re not one of the already infected. 

Before long, fears mount and hell starts to break loose and we’re quickly shepherded into a ‘safer’ environment deeper in the base where further complexities evolve and tensions mount amongst the team. 

Evolved extensively by an excellent production team and scripted tightly by Simon London and David Van Horn, the show is a 75 minute adrenalin rush for an audience seeking something truly thrilling and involving in their theatre. We’re given all the traditional exposition, some expected character types and tightly wound scenarios of the horror genre, but here the audience is thrown right into the middle and asked to participate with the characters and environment as the hordes of undead make their inevitable approach. 

To say too much about the actual plotting of this would be to spoil the surprises and frights that this highly inventive work has up its sleeve, but be prepared to get frightened in a whole new, bloody fun, way. Of course, if you don’t want to get involved, there is the option to just sit back and watch everyone else get scared out of their skin, but the whole fun of this piece is the immediacy of the interplay between audience and cast. 

A large video wall keeps us abreast of the events outside the makeshift walls from seemingly all angles and is very well rendered and controlled throughout so we can see and react to everything unfolding, complemented perfectly by walls of perfectly placed sound effects and use of focussed, subtle lighting shifts.

Horror and effects are so hard to get right, so I am very pleased that the work has been put in to make this such a compelling, credible environment with minimal moments where it is required to suspend disbelief.

Make no mistake though, this is no fairground haunted house ‘ride’: it is a brilliantly evolved and focussed work of theatre and the performers imbue their respective characters with high degrees of credibility and inject them with raw humanity that the scenario throws them into.

I’m not going to single anyone out here because a zombie movie is all about the ensemble surviving and this one manages it perfectly. All understand the moments of true terror and give it their all in their physical presentation within the space. 

My only criticism would be audience size. There were moments when vital plot points were a bit missed or muted with talking from nervous fellow audience members when we all knew that the undead could be on top of us at any moment and attack. Also, it would have just been nice to have not been crammed like sardines into the space, despite that helping to heighten the tension and immediacy of the environment. Maybe there is a need to halve the house size and play more sessions or maybe just a wee bit more planted crowd control? 

Get ready for a brand new, exciting kind of flesh-eating extravaganza. These zombies are creating an apocalypse that can’t, won’t and shouldn’t be stopped. George Romero would be so proud.  


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