The End of the World as We Know It!

The End

Caution: F-Bombs!

We’ve all heard about the Mayan calendar’s 2012 predictions and a host of other theories about the end of all time. Lately, with news of floods, tidal waves, earthquakes and meltdowns, the promise of the apocalypse looms large. And, if nothing else, climate change keeps all of us wondering how long we’ve got left.

So, I find myself at the end of a long week, anxiously awaiting the opening curtain for Friday’s premiere performance of The End, a Humana Festival play by Dan Dietz, Jennifer Haley, Allison Moore, A. Rey Pamatmat and Marco Ramirez, directed by Amy Attaway and Michael Legg.

This should be uplifting, right?

While failing nuclear reactors threaten to burn a hole through the planet and jets fly over yet another war zone in Libya, I get to review The End! Lucky me.

Emily Kunkel and Sean Michael Palmer in The End, a Humana Festival play – Photo by Joe Geinert

I found it ironic that the premier performance of The End should have a curtain time of 11 p.m. (Is this a subtle message that it’s later than you think?)

OK, for starters, don’t try to blame me for giving away the ending. We already know this play’s about all the shit that goes down just as the archangels roll credits on planet earth’s final scenes. The play bill sums it up: “From forewarning to four horsemen, the play’s five wildly imaginative playwrights

Alex Hernandez and Kerri Alexander in The End. – Photo by Joe Geinert

Alex Hernandez and Kerri Alexander in The End, a Humana Festival play. – Photo by Joe Geinert

join forces with twenty-two acting apprentices to explore the enduring promise of apocalypse —and what lies on the other side.”

Maybe I have a darker sense of humor than I realized going in, but this morbid little collection of vignettes was disarmingly funny! I’m talking about WTF, LOL funny. I mean, what kind of imagination personifies the four horsemen – Death, War, Pestilence, and Famine – as roommates who fight in the kitchen over the last of the Kashi cereal? The four – Daniel Desmarais, Victoria Alvarez-Chacon, Devin Olson, and Martina Bonolis – deliver wise-cracking performaces in “This is How it Ends.” And A. Rey Pamatmat’s Antichrist turns out to be a young woman? There’s an unexpected twist. When Annie (The AC), played by Emily Kunkel, reveals her eschatalogical identity to her gay roommate Jake (Sean Michael Palmer), she urges him to go get some ass before it’s too late. Whoa!

By the way, if you’re not comfortable with language that drops the F-Bomb every third nanosecond, you may want to steer clear of The End. But, honestly, if the world were to be 86ed right in front of your eyes, would you be yelling, “jeepers creepers!”

The End isn’t all giggles. These nine inter-woven variations on the final curtain give one pause to consider a subject many of us cold-war kids learned to suppress and deny well into adulthood. We were taught to “Duck and Cover!” Alex Hernandez and Jordan Brodess offer two of the most eerily dark performances in “La Muerte,” exploring strength and weakness in that fateful final hour.

Havalah Grace and Ellen Haun in The End at Actors Theatre – Photo by Joe Geinert

Havalah Grace and Ellen Haun in The End at Actors Theatre – Photo by Joe Geinert

The closing piece, “Promageddon,” is worth the price of admission all by itself. Scott Swezey, Jordan Brodess, Havalah Grace, Ellen Haun and Dinah Berkeley answer the burning question: What if nuclear war broke out on your prom night? Don’t worry, I won’t spoil it for you. But if you want to find out how it all ends, hurry. The End runs through Sunday, April 3.

– The End –

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