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Writing for Us

A CurtainUp Los Angeles Review
End Days


If all we have is us and one short lifetime – it’s not so bad. — Rachel
End Days
Zoe Perry and Charlie Saxton
“Happy families are all alike. Each family is unhappy in its own way,” or words to that effect. That’s the gist of Deborah Zoe Laufer’s hilarious concept in End Days over at the Odyssey Theatre.

Rachel (Zoe Perry), the teen-age daughter, is the sole sane member of the family. Her mother Sylvia (Abigail Revasch) is a Jesus freak, followed by the man himself (Andrew Ableson) in white gown with beneficent hands. Her father Arthur (Loren Lester) hasn’t taken his PJs off for years. Visitor Nelson (Charlie Saxton), a short plump nerd, follows Rachel adoringly.

Rachel goes around in a perpetual state of fury trying to shake off Nelson. He’s persistent. To her amazement she finds herself planting big kisses on his mouth.

The second act follows Sylvia’s obsession to the end of the world, which one assumes gives the play its title. The program states Laufer reports writing plays that worry her but usually winding up with more questions. Questions are what it’s all about, so there’s no harm done.

Under the sly direction of Lisa James, the play rips along at a roaring pace. The cast is well chosen, headed by Saxton who gives a wonderfully understated performance as Nelson. Perry holds the stage as Rachel, despite a more thinly written part. Arthur’s character grows and changes, even to clean clothes. And we mustn’t forget Stephen Hawking (Ableson again) in wheel chair with voice over.

The women are the only ones who fantasize, Rachel with alarm, Sylvia blithely. If that’s a comment on the richer fantasy life of the distaff sex, it works.

The costumes, including Nelson’s Superman suit, are shrewdly designed by Kathryn Poppen. The elaborate lighting design, stretching the mark for such a small theatre, is courtesy of Jeremy Pivick. Low-key set is by Jeff McLaughlin.

Ron Sossiís Odyssey lives up to its reputation as an innovator, 42 years and counting.

Title: End Days
Playwright: Deborah Zoe Laufer
Director: Lisa James
Cast: Nelson (Charlie Saxton), Arthur (Loren Lester), Sylvia (Abigail Revasch), Jesus/Stephen Hawking (Andrew Ableson), Rachel (Zoe Perry)
Scenic Design: Jeff McLaughlin
Lighting Design: Jeremy Pivnick
Costume Design: Kathryn Poppen
Sound Design: Matthew Beville
Prop Design: Katherine S. Hunt
Production Stage Manager: Julie Simpson
When: August 20-October 16, 2011
Where: Odyssey Theatre, 2055 S. Sepulveda Blvd., Los Angeles. Reservations: (310) 477-2055
Reviewed by Laura Hitchcock on August 21.
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