Presented by Happy Medium Theatre Company
Part of the Home Grown Theater Project
Written by Christopher Shinn
Directed by Cameron Cronin
Review by Travis Manni
(Boston, MA) If less does is fact mean more, the Happy Medium Theatre’s production of Dying City has a lot of potential to surprise audiences.
Performed in the literal living room of actors Kiki Samko and Michael Underhill, a married couple, Dying City opens on Kelly, a widow in her late twenties living in New York City. As she packs up some of her belongings, her estranged brother-in-law, Peter, who also happens to be her deceased husband’s identical twin, arrives without warning, much to Kelly’s discomfort.
Kelly’s husband, Craig, died while serving in the army in Iraq, and as the story progresses, the audience is transported back in time to the night before Craig’s departure for the army. Tensions run high, nicely accented by offstage noises in the kitchen and hallway, as Kelly tries to connect with her husband before he leaves for war.
Kiki Samko does a nice job of portraying Kelly, who is passionate about her job and the lives she may be able to affect. She is unwavering, though at times forced, in her discomfort around the exact image of her deceased husband. Michael Underhill’s, Peter isn’t given enough of an emotional backstory to fully explore the devastation of losing his twin brother. Craig is clearly the central character around which all of the play’s emotions rely. Underhill is able to slip in between characters with such ease you might think there’s an identical brother waiting offstage.
Though a living room was likely not director Cameron Cronin’s first choice of venue, the emotional landscape he is able to convey is wonderfully achieved through a minimalist approach. Happy Medium’s Dying City speaks volumes to what community-based theatre can accomplish in small spaces, and if you’re looking for an intimate performance, it doesn’t get any more personal than a dozen chairs facing the living room of the very actors putting on the play.
Dying City will have performances on June 25, 26, 27, as well as July 9, 10, 11 at 8pm. Tickets can be purchased here.