In a post-apocalyptic America, two men compete over the last woman and that last bag of barbecue Fritos. Zero Hour Theatre’s amusing Apocalypse Story explores the tension that boils over when two Omega Men meet one Omega Woman in a nuclear wasteland.
After waking up in their darkened living room, roommates Allen and Scott begin another day of survival in the abandoned apartment complex. They eat, discuss their predicament, and conduct supply raids on their neighbor’s vacant abode. Soon, their quiet home and bond of friendship is disrupted by the appearance of Suzanne, a mysterious beauty in torn jeans. After several rounds of heated battle for Suzanne’s affection, their world is rocked once again by the arrival of another stranger with a shocking secret.
As Allen and Scott, Kevin Scheuring and Ryan Milliner exhibit enough charisma and chemistry to make their contentious friendship entertaining. They can often be inconsistent with their delivery and physicality, but the pairing of paranoid cynic and loveable layabout often brings quality laughs. Madi Fergusson puts forth a gallant effort in her portrayal of Suzanne, doing her best to salvage the romantic subplot shoehorned into the tiny sliver of stage time.
Unfortunately, there’s no way to describe Michael Ridgaway’s performance without revealing the big dramatic twist. Without giving anything away, his portrayal of the sleazy Swan provides a satisfying, if perfunctory criticism of a disheartening trend in American culture.
The production’s glaring issue is that Brotzman crams too many heavy plot points into too little stage time, creating the sense that we’re watching a highlight reel from a much longer play. It’s just too much to ask the audience to accept the rapid implosion of a lengthy friendship due to the mere presence of an attractive stranger, much less the deep love connection that blossoms from nothing in the space of ten minutes. Any real character development is ruined by narrative overreach.
While there’s not enough time or effort invested to fully sustain the combination of buddy comedy and relationship drama, Apocalypse Story still has its moments. The show is carried by the clever sections where Allen and Scott bust each other’s chops, muse about the ethics of scavenging, and contemplate the bands of roving madmen waiting just out of view. Their Gen Y “Odd Couple” act proves just enough to save the day.
Apocalypse Story has 2 more performances at Wonderbox, 629 New York Avenue, Washington, DC.
Ben rates this 3 out of 5
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