...And Then She DIES at the End!
nytheatre.com review by Jo Ann Rosen
August 10, 2012
In ...And Then She DIES at the End!, an apocalyptic spoof by Christina Brosman and Elizabeth Kerin, a Revolutionary ghost, Reginald Sparks, bestows the responsibility of saving the world from the demon Rodanthe on his 21st century slacker relative, Nicholas Sparks. Tears keep Rodanthe at bay, and Nicholas must decide, as have each previous generation of Sparks, how he is going to keep the tears of the world flowing. Nicholas decides to write tear-jerkers, lots of them, and turn them into movies. Success comes, and Nicholas' novels keep the demon at bay. Love interest Callie resents what success has done to Nick. After a bitter disagreement, Callie calls the police, resulting in a six-month stint in an asylum during which Rodanthe is close to destroying the world. Enter Ghost Reginald once more cajoling Nicholas to escape from the institution and write one final novel to destroy Rodanthe and prevent the apocalypse. The plot is ripe with opportunity, and the actors appear to be having a great time with it on stage.
Brennan Lee Mulligan, dressed in period garb, benefits from the best lines, and delivers them with spirit and irony. He is the stand-out performer as the ghostly Reginald Sparks. His part is crisply defined, and Mulligan brings humor to his role as he alternately plays to the audience and goads his lazy descendent. His commanding voice adds depth and contour to a script determined to take detours. Alan Starzinski plays the hapless Nicholas listlessly. As an audience member, I want to follow him on his journey; he, as an actor, shows little commitment for this monumental assignment. In his defense, he is not given interesting ways to avoid it. But neither does he show fear or other convincing emotions that would lure me along. Consequently, the looming apocalypse never feels very close. Sarah Black walks through the role of Callie, Nicholas' girlfriend. In her bio, she states, "her crazy friends decided to take a chance on her for some reason. They're all excited about it. She's not entirely sure why." Black has an interesting look and could use it to great advantage. However, the relationship between Callie and Nicholas is primarily a narrative one, not one of chemistry. The role is not so much woven into the plot as patched in, making plot advances difficult to swallow. Again, she has few memorable lines.
Editing is a playwright's best friend, and Brosman and Kerin would do well to meet this useful ally rather than rely on the spontaneity and improvisation of their actors. Successful dialogue helps define characters, quicken pace, and propel plot forward. The result plays less to friends and relatives and more to a theater audience—that is, if that is what they want.