Wonderbox, 629 New York Avenue, NW
Sorry folks, none.
They say: “After a nuclear strike hits Philadelphia, two young men find an attractive woman asleep in their apartment. Soon the roommates are vying for her attention as all three search for answers about their unlikely survival.”
Adam’s Take: Everything has its plusses and minuses. Take the apocalypse, for instance. There is, without a doubt, a downside. The sudden and severe diminution of available resources, like food, would definitely be a drag. Not to mention the untold number of deaths. But, as always, there is that promise of a silver lining. Well, for example, you and your roommate could ditch your lead- and asbestos-ridden apartment (which you have to thank for your survival!) for miles and miles of now-unoccupied cityscape. That shouldn’t be too much of a strain on your long and enduring friendship. After living through a nuclear missile attack, this would presumably be the easy part—-unless an attractive third survivor brings the two of you to blows as you desperately seek her attention.
It all began when Kim Jong Il “called President Obama’s bluff” and unleashed a nuclear holocaust on the City of Brotherly Love. Failing to adequately prepare, Scott (Ryan Milliner) and Allen (Kevin Scheuring) are left with not much more in their apartment than a half-drank bottle of fruit-flavored bourbon and some shredded wheat. With no other options—-and equipped with cereal-box armor for protection—-they temporarily abandon their place to loot the rations of their next-door neighbor.
Upon returning they find Suzanne (Madi Fergusson), an unhappy barista with acting aspirations, lying on their living room sofa. Like two ducks fervidly fighting for the same scrap of bread, the roommates quickly ditch all camaraderie. A romance will eventually blossom—-but it isn’t what it seems. Neither is the breadth of this apocalyptic nightmare, as the eventual appearance of a man named Richard Swan (Michael Ridgaway) makes plain.
Kevin Brotzman‘s play is a clever thought experiment in how we perceive and react to mass tragedy. As for the plot, it’s not ground-breaking—-or city-decimating, for that matter—-but it contains enough twists to keep the audience’s attention rapt. Some scenes could use some trimming, and while the actors seem to be nicely in sync with another, their reactions to the end of the world don’t always feel realistic or frantic enough.
So what does it all mean? That message is most succinctly and effectively expressed when Suzanne asks Allen to remove the sheet of wood boarding up his apartment window. She wants to gaze at the apocalyptic world outside. Allen does not. He’d rather stay ignorant of the horror waiting for him on the other side. Suzanne implores Allen to look through the windows, warning him that “anything is better than not knowing.” You could say the same holds true for anyone who missed Apocalypse Story and the less visible breed of armageddon it eventually explores.
See it if: You thought about marketing post-apocalyptic peanut butter and saltine snacks but ultimately concluded you were just a tad ahead of the times.
Skip it if: To you, the theater can never be an appropriate venue for discourse on the apocalypse—-it is a solemn topic that should be reserved solely for television.