“End of Civilization” at the Sidewalk Studio Theatre
The SkyPilot Theatre Company has mounted a devastating picture of unemployment in nightmarish proportions, written by Toronto-based playwright George F. Walker and directed by James Sharpe, who draws out intense emotions from his actors.
Billed as a dark comedy, the play has more shocking realism than comedic content. The protagonists are an ordinary middle-class couple fighting financial ruin and a hopeless economic future.
The play unfolds in a non-linear fashion and opens in a dingy motel room, where Detective Max (a menacing Phillipe Simon) is interrogating husband Henry (Eric Curtis Johnson) over the 38-hour disappearance of his wife.
Then we see the husband and wife, Lily (Jaime Andrews), together where accusations fall as Henry discovers a lighter in the wastebasket. Johnson conveys a tortured man seething with rage and humiliation over having gone out every day for two years looking for work, facing rejection at every turn, and his pain is palpable. Andrews is perfect as the frightened and alienated wife who, desperate for money, turns to prostitution with the help of her sexy neighbor Sandy (Gemma Massot), returning to the motel early morning drunk and disoriented. She finds two detectives, Max and Donnie (Bob Rusch in a multi-layered performance) attracted to Lily whom he knew years ago from the same high school. Saddened by her situation, he wants to help.
The play is pathetic and disturbing in nature, and may be best suited for an audience who desires a cathartic release from their own financial woes.