Zombies are everywhere these days: on television, in the movies, and now onstage at the School of Medicine. “The Walking Med,” the Class of 2015’s Second Year Show, takes its title from a postapocalyptic TV series about survivors of a zombie plague. In this second year show, students forced to fight off hordes of zombies learn that only by overcoming their differences and cooperating will they survive.
The show, which includes a mix of video scenes and live song-and-dance-numbers, starts with a “Fantasy Gunner League Draft” as mock sportscasters discuss the top draft picks in the class. What’s a gunner? Someone who strives to get ahead, regardless of the consequences to others. Once this overly competitive attitude—“gunnerhea”—takes root, it can spread like, well, a virus. Last in the class of 100 to be drafted is Rob Marigold. He got into med school, his classmates say, only because his grandfather founded the cafeteria. Torn between his own feelings of inadequacy (“I just wanted to help the sick, get this knowledge under my thumb. This was the time for me to step up, so why do I feel so dumb?” he sings) and his desire to succeed, Marigold injects himself with a concoction of his own invention. “I will find a protein that will make me smarter,” he sings.
His protein has an unintended consequence—although it doesn’t affect him, it turns his classmates into zombies. Spread through saliva, the pathogen goes viral at a med school party where there is much sharing of beer cups and locking of lips. Only a handful of students remain uninfected as their classmates turn into killer zombies.
Not to worry, says Nancy R. Angoff, M.P.H. ’81, M.D. ’90, HS ’93, associate dean for student affairs and one of several faculty members to appear in the show, as she counsels a student in a video scene. “These zombie attacks happen every year,” she says. “People get so stressed out about them. It’s just not worth it.”
Only a handful of students survive, and each has a different story to tell. “Vivian Huxley,” played by Amanda King, aspires to a lucrative career as a dermatologist. As played by Veronica Shi, “Cindy Liu” has been groomed since birth for a career in medicine and rarely sets foot outside the lab. Lauren Krumeich’s “Hazel McLellan” founded a nonprofit for children abroad. Pierre Martin’s “Jackson L. Samuel” is a martial arts expert who singlehandedly overthrew the dictator of “Bhutesia” and brought peace, prosperity, and health care to the developing nation. The survivors seek refuge in Hope 110, where Liu reveals that the formula for a cure for the zombie plague is in her laptop—which she’s left in the histology lab in The Anlyan Center. In the final scenes the quiet, studious Liu rises to the occasion and leads the others through the zombie hordes to retrieve the cure. Marigold confesses his role in the starting the plague. His classmates forgive him and, united and working together, they defeat “gunnerhea.”
The show ends with the full cast on stage for a Gangnam-style finale led by Michael Chang. All is well with the world, at least at Yale Med.