Let the End of Civilization Wind You Up
Not exactly a plot spoiler here, but you know heading into one of George F. Walker plays from the Suburban Motel series, you are in for some great, witty dialogue and some thought-provoking commentary on the struggles of life and the existential angst that can follow.
Currently at the Gladstone, you can see one of the installments in that six-part series, The End of Civilization by Same Day Theatre Company. Set in a gritty motel room, Henry and Lily are economically and emotionally in dire straits. Two years prior, Henry lost his job, has been unsuccessful in finding another and has since lost his spirit, beaten down by circumstance. In a last attempt find a new start, he and Lily head to a motel to try to get their lives back together without the distraction of family. Anything but getting a new start ensues.
For starters, Henry is under suspicion for murder by two homicide cops, Max Malone (the good, reliable professional with a bit of an aggressive streak) and Donny Deveraux (the drinking, easy-going, morally relaxed cop who has an reciprocated thing for Lily whom he knew in high school).
Lily gets frustrated at the motel waiting around for Henry and after meeting their motel neighbour Sandy, a prostitute trying to make ends meet, joins Sandy on the street and the plot goes from there. There are the themes of moral decay and all that you would expect in such a play, but even without all the social commentary, the dialogue is good, some of it biting, some of it funny, some of it sad, just as you expect from Walker.
The plot moves along in the manner of flashbacks and by and large this works well, until the end. Everything flows until that last scene which ends the play in a very peculiar way, without any true conclusion. There is just something missing and it’s awkward and frankly the scene is just too long. Don’t let that stop you though, because the rest of the show makes up for it.
The acting is fantastic. David Frisch is fabulous as the odd, quirky and desperate Henry who is barely holding on. Julie Le Gal perfectly captures Lily, his wife who tries to keep it all together. Catriona Leger shines brilliantly as Sandy. Brad Long is utterly likable as the somewhat sleazy cop and Geoff McBride pulls off a great Malone, showing the many sides of his character.
The play runs until May 31st at the Gladstone.
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