What Comes Next, or Meet the Dunnes, a new comedy by award-winning playwright Laurence Klavan, is now available online from the 21st Century Players with free access to all. What Comes Next asks the question to which just about everyone who has ever lived has sought an answer: Where do we go after we die, and can a person get a decent meal there?
This fun, laugh-filled satire follows the journey of one man, Guy, as he refuses to conform to expected social norms set up by the powers-that-be in the afterlife. Along the way he’s forced by the system into bumbling psychotherapy, pretentious experimental theater, and a dysfunctional family all in an attempt by the system to make everyone happy. But he finds that he can’t leave many of his worldly problems behind and that the search for love is as frustrating and as important as it was on Earth.
This is the first production by the 21st Century Players, which decided that the greatest leap of faith it could make would be to start a new theater company during the pandemic. Since live performances and in-person rehearsals were not possible, they decided to work with Klavan to adapt this stage play for a listening audience. The setting for What Comes Next, a rather nebulous afterlife devoid of conventional structure and boundaries, welcomes listeners to create their own visual images. The music written by Ger FitzGerald and sound designed by John Lofton IV give depth and life to this hilarious one-hour production.
What Comes Next, or Meet the Dunnes was written by Laurence Klavan, a two-time Drama Desk nominee whose works have been produced in New York and London. His one-act The Summer Sublet is included in Best American Short Plays 2000–2001, and his one-act The Show Must Go On was the most produced short play in American high schools in 2015–2016. His novels The Cutting Room and The Shooting Script were published by Ballantine Books. He won the Edgar Award from the Mystery Writers of America. His graphic novels City of Spies and Brain Camp, co-written with Susan Kim, were published by First Second Books at Macmillan, and their Young Adult fiction series Wasteland was published by Harper Collins. His short story collection The Family Unit and Other Fantasies was published by Chizine. His website is laurenceklavan.com.
The production is directed by Martin Blank, who is the author of ten plays, the most recent of which, The Law of Return, was produced Off-Broadway. He has served as Artistic Associate for the American Place Theatre, New York City, as well as Literary Manager for Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company and Founding Artistic Director of Theater J. He attended the University of Maryland and the Yale School of Drama.
The cast includes two-time Helen Hayes Awards nominee Lisa Hodsoll; Michael Replogle, who has appeared in NBC and ABC television shows and at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts; Slice Hicks, who has worked at the Keegan Theatre and Constellation Theatre in DC; Crystal Swann, who has appeared in films at the Sundance Festival and who works as a stand-up comic; and Steve Lebens, who has appeared in HBO, NBC, and Netflix series, as well as many theaters in the DC area.
21st Century Players is a new theater for this new century. They produce 21st-century plays in a classic style and reimagine classic plays for a 21st-century audience.