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Help others, forgive yourself, never forget…move on.” That’s one bit of serious, straightforward advice from one survivor to another in Lazarus Syndrome, a new play about, well, survival that more often takes the jocular approach. In fact, the script shoehorns in nearly as much arch banter as Private Lives, though playwright Bruce Ward hardly has Coward’s ear. “I don’t know how to be angry,” says protagonist Elliot toward the end of Ward’s uneven, saccharine evening—and if it weren’t for Michael Kramer’s unfussy performance in the part, audiences might well be tempted to volunteer a demonstration.
Paul-Douglas Michnewicz directs the 70-minute show attentively, though; clearly he sees more to love in a script that wanders through familiar tropes about woeful childhood deprivations and dire performance by a parental unit. It does finally get around to a saw-that-coming “surprise” that has to do with what’s really going on in Elliot’s apartment, where his father, brother, and lover arrive in quick succession to try and coax him out of what looks like a first-class bout of depression. (Bathrobe? Check. Shower? Nope. What day is it? No clue. Yup, that’s depression.)
Things perk up a little when a plot twist arrives, but only a little—and mostly because it signals pretty clearly that the end is near. Survive that long, and you’re home free.