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In the Event of My Death

Theatre Review by Howard Miller - August 8, 2016

John Racioppo, Lisa Jill Anderson, Kara Young, Cory Kosel,
Ian Poake, and Breanna Foister
Photo by Katy Atwell

Kate and her twin brother Freddy had a little dark humor thing going. Each kept on the desktop of their computers a folder containing jokey instructions to follow in case one of them should die: "Get rid of my porn. Find a super hot picture for my obituary." Stuff like that. Funny. Until it's not.

We learn quite a bit about Freddy, Kate, and their friends in Lindsay Joy's new play In the Event of My Death, opening tonight at the IRT Theater in an accomplished production by Stable Cable Lab Co. The play concerns a group of Freddy's friends, all of them in their twenties, who are gathered at one of their homes following his funeral. Reeling from the knowledge that Freddy committed suicide, they have come together to honor his memory, to find mutual support among their peers, and to ponder the imponderable.

Such gatherings have been the subject of movies like The Big Chill and plays like the recent The Healing, and they tend to invite the shorthand of stereotyping that allows the audience to pin a familiar label on each of the characters. When we initially meet everyone in Ms. Joy's well-crafted play, they do seem to embody the clichés we have come to expect. There's Amber (Lisa Jill Anderson), the acid-tongued self-destructive one; Connor (Ian Poake), the computer geek who analyzes social media and calls himself a "millennial whisperer;" Becky (Samantha Strelitz), the bitch goddess prom queen, and so forth. Yet as the play develops, and especially as the characters come to life in the hands of the strong ensemble of actors, those clichés start to melt away and our hearts go out to them. Even Becky, whom most of them have intensely disliked since their high school days, turns out to have surprising depths, and her final "I'm so sorry for you loss" truly means something.

So, yes, there are revelations, tears, arguments, laughter, the dampening of some relationships and the flourishing of others. There is also a great sense that we are witnessing real people, some of whom we would like to spend more time with and others we're happy to say goodbye to. Decidedly, though, it is the collaborative efforts of the playwright, the director Padraic Lillis, the production staff, and the entire cast that lift In the Event of My Death considerably beyond its predictable roots.

In the Event of My Death
Through August 21
IRT Theater, 154 Christopher Street #3B
Tickets online and current Performance Schedule:

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