Death House is a room, the last stopover for criminals awaiting execution. To make their last hours as comfortable as possible, a chaplain stays with them. George has had this duty for 22 years, but tonight he is training his replacement, a brash young preacher named Allen. The first act of the play deals with their meeting and the conflict of their beliefs.
George has seen it all. He has spent hours with these people, learning about them, then walking them to their deaths. He has seen their eyes as they are given the lethal injection. He is tortured with compassion for these killers. For Allen, they are criminals who deserve to be punished. Then along comes Liliana, tonight’s doomed “guest of honor,” and she rocks their worlds.
In the second act, we get a glimpse into the motivation of the three characters. Verity Branco is quite convincing as Liliana, helping us to understand why she killed, even if we don’t agree. Sam Anderson infuses George with heart, making us feel his pain. And Allen, expertly played by Chase Cargill, has a secret that belies his confidence.
The play left a few questions unanswered, and some of the direction seemed a bit contrived. But it forced us to question our convictions: Is everything just black or white? Do all killers deserve to be executed? Would we still feel that way if we knew what was in their heads?
“Death House” plays through Sunday, March 10 at the Road Theatre located at 5108 Lankershim Blvd. in NoHo. For reservations call (818) 761-8838.