RecommendedIf you’ve had it up to here with Love Thy Neighbor, this is the show for you. A Hands On Guide to the Apocalypse arrives just in time, since 2012 — as we’re being frequently reminded — is the year the Mayans tagged for the end of the world. So what happens next? (Somehow we always think there is a Next, even when we’re talking about The End.) Kleesattel Productions suggests a training session for What’s Next is in order, and sends out Dain Alan Paige and Chauntel Moore as trainers.
They are dressed exactly the same, in trousers, white shirt and tie, but play off each other as physical opposites: he is white, she is black; he is tall and straight, she is shorter and pleasantly rounded; and, of course, he is he and she is she. There seems to be a thing going between them, which may give the lie to what they espouse as truths.
Forget Nice Guy, forget empathy, forget guilt.
These are concepts that will have to go, they say, for survivors who persist in surviving. And they pull “volunteers” from the audience to enforce their training. One of the things I will remember from the show is the stage names of those volunteers, who were — to the relief of the audience I was part of – actors in the production. “Berry Sunflower” spelled with an ‘e’ was the first, followed by “Summer,” a woman, and “Gerry” pronounced Jerry but spelled with a ‘G,’ and Carson somebody. They were each funnily non-responsive to the lecturers’ goals, but having been returned to the audience took aggressive stances against them.
All this is clever and slickly handled, but the thought does occur, in light of the news of any day, that what they claim to be training us to do is pretty much what is actually going on in many corners of the world right now. As reluctant as we are, individually, to resort to dreadful ends we do exactly that collectively. The psychopath, one of these mentors tells us, “is carefree.”
A Hands On Guide to the Apocalypse is out to make us laugh and does so with success, meanwhile leaving us with some things to think about. Isn’t that one of the purposes of laughter — To push us into new ideas?
This production is directed by Gina Kleesattel and written by Benjamin Kleesattel, whose Kleesattel Productions brought the Bible study class led by Satan (Dain Alan Paige again) in To and Fro and Up and Down to 2011 Fringe. The company is good at throwing out new ideas, neatly draped in comedy.