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Atlas Performing Arts Center: Sprenger

Remaining performances (tickets available here):

Friday, July 17 at 10:45 p.m. Saturday, July 18 at 12:15 p.m. Tuesday, July 21 at 8 p.m. Friday, July 24 at 10:30 p.m. Sunday, July 26 at 6:45 p.m.

They say: A troupe of eccentric players opens the floodgates of imagination. Can they stop the end of the world? This procession along the precipice lights up the darkness like a firecracker. What happens in that moment of illumination?

Margot says: Equal parts sketch improv show and Waiting for Godot, Happenstance’s troupe of Victorian clowns bring a sense of pathos and levity to the end of the world. In fact, anything is possible when the world is ending, including the possibility that it might not end. With only each other, the audience, a couple musical instruments, and one piece of luggage per character, the players’ well-honed use of improvisation, audience inclusion, and most notably, physical humor and superb live sound effects, enliven their remaining time on Earth.

The troupe’s misadventures in preparing for the end pull the audience into vignette after vignette of mortal scenarios. The characters expectantly and hopefully reset after surviving each disaster—everything from a flood to a pandemic to a comet. Some are relieved, some are disappointed (we’re talking old school, repeated falls-to-the-ground onstage deaths), but there’s barely a hint of agony, since they have all accepted their demise. The clowns’ companionship is evident and the performers are as comfortable busting into dance numbers as into tears.

This show shines brightest during their interactions with and appeals to the audience. Between taking drink orders at the Apocalypse Bar and encouraging the audience to share what they would do if they had only a few hours left, curveball responses ranged from getting a tattoo to jumping off a building, all of which the troupe handled with aplomb. Impressive comedic timing, cunning word play, and incredible live sound effects and songs pull the scenes together.

What do you do in an apocalypse that never comes? Happenstance seems to suggest laughing and making the most of it with the ones you are with.

See it if: You can laugh in the face of death.

Skip it if: Cynicism delights you more than absurdity.

Photo courtesy of Happenstance Theater