The scent of roasting chile grows faint as the trees of the Bosque surrender their final leaves. Nights grow longer, drier, colder. Fall is upon us, and with it, a new and frightening October epidemic. Perhaps you’ve seen a sign—they’re all around you: on street poles and the internet, at Aggies games and even around bars Downtown. I’m talking about the Lazarus Plague and its fast–spreading infection. You can hear its victims in the streets, dragging their feet and moaning for human contact in the form of brains.
Quarantine, by Blackout Theatre Company, is an interactive haunted house and theater piece where the audience becomes refugees in a zombie outbreak. Blackout has been building the story for months with atmospheric videos, public safety posters and stunts like an Oct. 5 flash mob at a Lobo/Aggie game. Actress and set designer Lauren Poole explains that the performance forms a“cohesive through line and story from beginning to end,” not just “your standard run from scary-themed room to different scary-themed room” Halloween event. Barney Lopez, Quarantine director and actor, adds that the performance is more than “people just jumping out at you.” Everyone at Blackout, he says, has worked hard to create a “very dark” and foreboding storyline that “the audience will love.”
The premise is that Albuquerque is overrun with the undead, and before you can be evacuated at the nearby train station, you must first be screened for the Lazarus Plague infection. In groups of five, you’re guided through the quarantine zone by doctors, scientists, local militia and military. If you’re lucky, they might even teach you a skill or two for staying alive. Because survival isn’t easy—the building that the quarantine is housed in is also under siege. You must keep pushing forward through the claustrophobia of the encroaching zombie menace and escape, or become just another tasty, desert-dried zombie treat.
With Quarantine, Blackout Theatre helps break in a brand-new performance and makerspace for Quelab (680 Haines NW), a community of technology enthusiasts and inventors. Blackout is joined by several other local actors, comedians and friends in bringing this Burque-centric horror story to life. Lopez believes that everyone’s hard work is paying off and hopes that the performance will also bring Quelab necessary attention for future events at their great new space.
Quarantine is an undeniably unique and fun way to experience a zombie apocalypse, even if, like me, you think pop culture has generally beaten the undead to death. However, after further educating myself on QuarantineABQ.com, one question was left ominously hanging: Would New Mexican zombies develop a taste for chile? Lopez assured me they would, thus confirming my worst fears: even higher chile prices. All joking aside, this is the only time any type of quarantine has sounded like a great way to spend an evening.