David (Douglas Cape) is a writer. He is writing a novel about another writer but things are not going well. With deadlines looming and the alcohol nearly gone, David undergoes a somewhat comical existential crisis and in the process is forced to face his own mortality. But will he survive it? And will he get a good story out of it?
The acting had its good moments as well as some bad ones. Adam John Patterson’s personified Death could at times be both chilling and sorrowful. One particularly affecting scene saw him remembering the horrors of trench warfare from 1917, essentially reliving his own death. However, in other parts he was too restrained, too uncomfortable. When Cape and Patterson perform a silent sing-along like something out of a Lynch movie they did not seem confident enough to play the scene to its full campy potential. As a result they both looked stiff and awkward when had they just given a touch more and taken themselves less seriously, this scene would have been great. Also Irina Preda, although not given sufficient time to shine onstage, is appropriately spectral as David’s long lost wife.
The writing is a similarly mixed bag. In certain moments it seems to genuinely sparkle. The many vignettes that are discussed as possible ideas for David’s writing are beautiful little treats, inserted into the play like cherries onto cake. Here we have weird and wonderful little glimpses of intrigue; lowlife characters getting into absurd fixes with no way out. These monologues would have made very good short stories in and of themselves. However, when these monologues abated they were all too often replaced by a kind of inane banter. For instance, there are too many pop culture references which just become tiresome going, as they do, nowhere. One particular conversation about Disney films seems jarringly out of place when coming from the mouths of two twenty-something males.
However, the initial conceit of comparing David’s creative bankruptcy in the first scene and death in the second is quite elegant. There are also enough moments of gentle humour to keep the play alive. It is in the end neither fantastic nor mundane, instead walking a tightrope between these two extremes.