In Some Things You Should Know Before the End of the World (A Final Evening With the Illuminati) it’s the end of the world as we know it, and at least two folks feel far less than fine. The show continues its run through Saturday, July 14, at The Magnetic Theatre.
When The Magnetic had to cancel plans for a return of the show Witches Quorum due to scheduling conflicts, a quick replacement was needed. And while some might fear for the quality of a hastily assembled, two-character play with a lot of lines to be learned, in this case, there’s no need for such concerns. If anything, the short rehearsal period inspired the actors to the top of their game. It’s edgy stuff and a lot of fun.
Rodney Smith brings out the best in his cast with precision direction. The characters are thrown from the main storyline within this postapocalyptic play to random, fever-dream vignettes — dealing with everything from the place of women in the church to achieving sainthood on a steeply graded curve — that bubble up from the deluded subconscious of Reverend Eddie (played to delirious perfection by Darren Marshall).
From the outset, we know that the good Reverend is a bit off his rocker. And why wouldn’t he be? He’s overseeing a congregation of weary survivors of some cataclysmic world-ending scenario. Subtle references to nerve gas fatalities are threaded into the dialogue, establishing the bleak reality outside the walls of the church. He has constructed a sermon that finds a correlation between God and basketball, and is certain it will rock the world, though he’s also paranoid that a secret society known as The Illuminati will try and suppress his message. Paranoia and delusion would be his closest friends, were it not for his faithful sidekick, who aids him in keeping the church up and running.
Brother Lawrence (played by Scott Fisher), who suffers from a hunchback, is Eddie’s only ally, helping hold the fraying edges of the church and world together as much out of habit as religious devotion. Fisher is always funny on stage, and his dead leg walk is in clear homage to the classic mad scientist’s assistant, Igor. Though the Reverend discounts Lawrence because of his abnormalities, it is obvious that Lawrence is smarter and more aware of reality than his superior.
The two actors move with ease through the frantically paced show. The play was written by Larry Larson and Levi Lee nearly 40 years ago. Of course, the Cold War era of the early 1980s informs the anxiety of the world being left a smoldering heap with few surviving. And it still works well today. It’s a bit like Sunday school at the end of Mad Max: Fury Road.
In every way, this is the kind of show that is perfect for The Magnetic. It’s concise, precise and as smart as it is edgy.
WHAT: Some Things You Should Know Before the World Ends (A Final Evening With the Illuminati)
WHERE: The Magnetic Theatre, 375 Depot St., themagnetictheatre.org
WHEN: Through Saturday, July 14. Thursday-Saturday at 7:30 p.m. $12-$16