Urban Death is a collection of horror-inspired vignettes, replete with gratuitous nudity and lots of fake blood. There is no overarching theme, outside of horror, and there isn’t a point to the show except to try and shock the audience; something it mostly failed at.
A great many of the scenes and images are inspired by horror movies – mostly jump scares and reaction shots – and horror tropes: clowns, lunatic asylums, carnivals, zombies, self-mutilation, all showing the production's distinct lack of originality. As the show progressed I became curious as to how far they would plumb the depths of bad taste for their inspiration. Much to my amusement it didn’t take long for the show to achieve the trifecta of lazy ideas: Nazis, paedophilia and religious imagery. The Fringe has a proud tradition of pushing boundaries, and everything on display here has been done before, and usually better.
There were several vignettes that would work well within a narrative; for instance, a segment that took place completely in the dark with skittering noises moving around the audience in the room. The cast is clearly talented, if ultimately wasted, and (with at least forty vignettes being produced by the small cast of seven) the speed with which they are able to change costume and makeup between scenes is astounding. The tech was also well handled with very precise timings for the lights and music.
Between scenes the venue is plunged into complete darkness, and most of the vignettes only last a few seconds, so you end up spending a lot of the show sitting in the dark waiting for the next tableau. This destroys any tension or emotional connection that an individual piece may create, and because the series of images is unconnected, it quickly becomes boring. There was one vignette depicting a threesome between a man and two women. The man is squashed between the women’s breasts and suffocates; it's a somewhat comedic moment and the audience did burst out into laughter, but it was derisive and was aimed at and not with the show. That's rarely a good sign.
Urban Death tries to be titillating and shocking, but in the end the most it manages is boring and predictable. Ultimately, it’s a show that could easily be replaced by a YouTube compilation of horror movie jump scares.