Happy Wednesday, everybody! It’s a beautiful day outside, we’re halfway through the work week, and the $5 preview of the MET’s newest main stage production End Days by Deb Laufer is just around the corner. This time last year, the high temperature was 34 degrees (can you believe it?!) and we were preparing to open Sarah Ruhl’s Dead Man’s Cell Phone.
MET is happy to welcome back Cell Phone cast member Brian Irons (Dead Man’s Cell Phone, Don Q), along with Laura Stark (MET Company Member, Comedy Pigs, 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee), Caitlin Joy (MET Company Member, Commedia Pinocchio, Dracula, Don Q), Matt Lee (MET Company Member, Laugh Station Infinity, Clockwork Orange), and Matthew Baughman (Planet Claire, Killer Joe) to the stage for this quirky comedy which features a born again extremist mother, a cynical, stoner, Gothic teenager, a quirky Jewish neighbor who dresses solely in Elvis revival attire, a catatonic and depressed father, Jesus, and Stephen Hawking (motorized wheelchair and all).
After hearing the character breakdown, you probably don’t have to reach far to guess why this script was such a favorite on the ballots. MET strives for “Gutsy Theatre… at a Great Price!” and what’s more gutsy than mixing religion, illegal substances, and the King of Rock and Roll? But honestly… what about End Days makes it “a MET play?”
Doug Grove, Company Member and Light Designer for End Days says that he knew the show was going to be a perfect fit for MET during last year’s Annual Company Retreat to Surfside. Sarah Shulman, Company Member and Stage Manager for End Days points out that the show, much like the MET, “is funny and quirky, without being afraid to ask serious questions about the things that are going on in our society.” Along those same lines, Tad Janes, Artistic Director of the MET and Director of End Days says that the show is perfect for MET because, “It’s an ensemble play! Great roles, funny, poignant, interesting, and entertaining.”
With this past year marking the tenth anniversary of the September 11 attacks on the United States, I think we’ve all spent a great deal of time thinking about our families and the impact of that tragic day. At the top of the play, the Stein family members are all still dealing with the aftermath of 9-11, in their own unusual and unhealthy ways. Brian Irons’ character, Arthur Stein, formerly employed in the World Trade Center, continues to mourn the deaths of his colleagues at the start of the play. His depression has such a hold on him that he rarely leaves the couch and never changes out of his pajamas. His wife, Sylvia (played by Laura Stark), receives regular council from Jesus (Matt Baughman), whom is not just her savior, but a constant companion following her around the stage in flowing white robes. Their teenaged daughter, Rachel (Caitlin Joy), dons the Gothic subculture and takes to smoking weed until she’s high enough that she hallucinates Stephen Hawking (Again, Matt Baughman).
Funny characters- but a tragic reality. Like the Steins, many families are still processing losses from that one day, ten years ago.
Another timely facet of this show revolves around the impending End of Days forecast for this coming December. As most of us have been hearing for decades, the Mayan calendar mysteriously ends on 12-21-2012. Now, whether you believe that we’re all going to go down in a fiery blaze or simply that the Mayan calendar is cyclical and that nothing is going to happen, it’s obvious what Sylvia Stein believes. She is not afraid to tell the audience, and everyone on the Steins’ residential block, that the end of the world is coming later in the week and that she wants her family to be together when it does.
Sort of begs the question… what will you be doing this year, just in case it is the End Days?
Well, just in case this is it… you better make sure seeing End Days at the Maryland Ensemble Theatre is on your list. The show opens this Thursday night with $5 Thrifty Thursday and continues for four weeks. Call Lorrie in the box office and reserve tickets now. It’s what Jesus (and Stephen Hawking) would do.