The title of Deborah Zoe Laufer’s thoughtful comedy, End Days, says it all — the end is near. However, depending on which character you listen to, the shape of that conclusion is not clear. The play portrays a family changed by the events of 9/11, two years earlier.
Sylvia (Amy Warner) has flipped from being an atheist to a Jesus freak (she’s followed by an imagined Jesus, played by Michael G. Bath), while her husband Arthur (Barry Mulholland), the sole survivor of a company that operated in one of the Twin Towers, is a depressed narcoleptic hiding from horrific memories, unable to shed his pajamas or shop for groceries. Their daughter Rachel (Lily Hidalgo) hides behind Goth makeup, marijuana and a sullen attitude.
Enter a chipper young man, Nelson (Richard Lowenburg), an orphan wearing a crush for Rachel on the glittering sleeve of his 1970s Elvis jumpsuit.
End Days has a lot of humor. Bath sheds his Jesus robes and wig to become a cartoon daydream of theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking who visits Rachel. Lowenburg’s Nelson never shuts up, babbling amusingly without a filter. I didn’t find enough connectivity in script or cast to make this show convincing and Warner’s portrait of Sylvia is so strident in her anxiety that she’s a tough source for humor. The play’s quick resolution happens so neatly it’s hard to believe anyone took their earlier fears seriously.
Nonetheless, Laufer’s witty writing makes End Days a play that many will enjoy.
END DAYS, presented by Ensemble Theatre of Cincinnati, continues through April 3.