The End of Civilization

The play doesn't entail an-end-of-the-world holocaust, though it might feel that way to Harry (Eric Curtis Johnson) and Lily (Jaime Andrews), the middle-class couple at the nub of Canadian George F. Walker's ominously dark comedy. One of six in Walker's Motel Series of plays, it takes place against the backdrop of a national financial crisis which has left Harry -- and millions more -- jobless. The prescient Walker wrote this in late 1998. For reasons never entirely clear, Harry has opted to job search from a seedy motel room rather than from his comfortable suburban digs, which are now in danger of foreclosure. Leaving their kids with her sister, Lily has accompanied him as a show of support -- but her confidence, along with the raison d'ĂȘtre for her entire existence is teetering, as Harry's behavior becomes progressively more erratic and rage-driven. Their new nightmarish existence roils out of control when two detectives (Phillip Simone and Bob Rusch) -- one of whom is obsessively fixated on Lily -- show up, suspecting Harry of having murdered three men. Keeping track of this plot is not always easy, as events are presented in non-chronological order, and it's not till the end that we become privy to the story's point of departure, from which the shattering climax ensues. Under James Sharpe's direction Johnson and Andrews display their marital torments in persuasive three dimensions. Gemma Massot is spot-on as the take-no-prisoners hooker next door while Simone and Rusch are also effective. Yet the punch the production lands only puts us on the ropes; with a bit more timing and finesse it could knock us to the floor. Sidewalk Studio Theatre, 4150 Riverside Dr., Toluca Lake; Sat. 8 p.m.; Sun. 7 p.m.; thru Nov. 29. (818) 838-3006. A SkyPilot Theatre Company production.
Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 7 p.m. Starts: Oct. 17. Continues through Nov. 29, 2009


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