How do you survive the apocalypse? You don’t, obviously, but before the apocalypse can get you, you might as well go out the way you want. The only problem is trying to figure out what a fitting way to end one’s life would be.
In the Dylan James-directed performance, Jamie and Duncan’s Glorious Suicide at the End of the World, this is a world where the Pope is dead, society is crumbling, and suicide feels like a sensible way out. The production is on a small stage in a fairly tucked away room in the basement of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Library. It is produced by Julia Katz and written by Matthew Schott and Alex Garretson.
In pitch darkness, the play begins with the sound of birds chirping. Then, blaring, snarling sounds of a radio hissing. Once the lights come up, the audience sees empty boxes cluttering the stage, a chaos of streamers, and two men, one with his head submerged in a bucket of water.
After lifting his head from the water, Jamie (Schott) criticizes drowning, deeming it an unsatisfactory way to die. Duncan (Garretson) tries a new plan by creating a makeshift table out of boxes and arranging a plate, silverware, and flowers in a vase. “It’ll be worth it. Trust me,” he says and proceeds to attempt to chomp at his arm only to tell Duncan that this method is a similarly unsatisfactory way to die.
Throughout, the two can never seem to agree with each other. Even so, they still cling to one another for a solution to their problem. “There’s something poetic about soaring to our deaths,” says Jamie, speaking about jumping off a building. Duncan then argues that he’s afraid of heights, so that method simply won’t work. They refuse to kill themselves unless they can agree.
Hanging? No rope. Explosion? No gunpowder. Overdose? They could possibly not work and may create a stomachache. Each method is deemed too messy, too painful, or too safe. They bicker on and on until they can figure out a “worthy” suicide.
Throughout the performance, there are bits of audio played overhead, the sounds of someone inaudible on the radio or what seems like a rushing meteorite. The comedy is mostly absurd and sometimes crude. In one instance, Jamie complains that a certain method of suicide would be “overkill.”
Expect a great tragicomedy and most importantly a play that will leave you wanting more.
Jamie and Duncan’s Glorious Suicide at the End of the World plays through July 23, 2016 at Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Library in Room A:3 – 901 G Street NW, in Washington, DC. For tickets, call (866) 811-4111, or purchase them online.
RATING: BEST OF THE 2016 CAPITAL FRINGE