- OTHER MEDIA
- reviewed by Fred Backus
- Feb 25, 2009
- What will you do in the last hour before the end of the world? With
2012 approachingthe end of the current life cycle according to the
ancient Mayan calendarwe will no doubt see more musings on this subject,
but Sean Owens and Kenny Neal Shults take an early stab at it in End of
the Trail, courtesy of EXIT Theatre in San Francisco.
- Here two unnamed loversa flamboyant San Franciscan in the mold
of Oscar Wilde played by Owens and a sensitive and neurotic New Yorker
played by Shultshave reunited to celebrate the end of the world with
their own religious ritual of sorts, a board game created using a postcard
won from an antique arcade machine in an old amusement park. The postcard
features a mysterious trail across the country ending in the ominous number
12212012 and an intriguing little poem laying out 12 life steps along the
way, a seeming prophesy that forges a pact finally sealed when the two
men meet with only 60 minutes left on the clock.
- The two carry on with their task and bare their souls at the various
steps of the gamesteps marked out by the poem in evocative if enigmatic
sections such as "to mournful midseason" and "fool heart."
They must come to a "revelation" before they are allowed to proceed
to the next step along the way, and the two accomplish this with an entertaining
cocktail of heartfelt musings and acerbic wit. Is the world really going
to end and is the game really some sort of prophesy? There's room for skepticism
here to be sure, but in the end it doesn't really matter, for the point
seems to be that life is what you make of it, and endings and beginnings
are what you make of them too.
- Owens and Schults have created a work that is clearly dear to their
"fool hearts"and the piece and their performances shine
because of it. The trust and respect between these co-creators is palpable,
and what emerges from this are two complicated and intriguing portraits
of individuals dealing with life's vicissitudes and mysteries in their
own unique ways. There's real nuance and depth here that is penned with
a light touch and real skill, so much so that it leads to one rather large
caveat that the piece feels constrained by the one-hour format the creators
and the festival have consigned it to. Even as written the production feels
rushedas if the whole piece were sped up to just barely cram into
the 60-minute boxbut there also seems to be enough intriguing material
here to explore these characters and particularly their relationship to
each other to a greater and more fulfilling degree.
- It's always a dangerous thing to ask for more of a good thing, but
the roots of this plant are deep enough to warrant a replanting into a
larger vessel where it can bloom and blossom further. I hope End of the
Trail gets that opportunity sometime before 2012 rolls around, but in the
meantime it's well worth a trip to The Red Room to see this playing of
the game unfold to the end of this particular trail before the clock runs
out and it comes to an end.