The Road Theatre Company Presents “Death House” -written by Jason Karasev and directed by Michael Peretzian.
Extended through March 23! Fridays & Saturdays at 8pm, Sundays at 2pm
The Road on Lankershim, 5108 Lankershim Blvd., North Hollywood, 91601
A play about death, set in a prison in the hours before a prisoner on death row takes their final bow may not seem to most to be something to spend an evening with.
But consider how those final hours might bring all involved together to face what it is we all must eventually face and how the knowledge of that fact, as surely as anyone ever could know, might actually be.
Chase Cargill and Sam Anderson
I could tell you that this exquisite play, “Death House” isn’t really about death at all, and that would be somewhat true, I suppose. It does dwell on more than the inmate’s story. It is also in part the story of two men, the current Chaplin, haunted by the many he has helped to their deaths and his replacement, an evangelical preacher and supporter of the death penalty who has petitioned the governor for this job, determined to serve his beliefs.
But even with all that, death really is the central theme…death and its pernicious echos in the lives of those who remain.
Each character is singularly driven. Each with their own particular sin. How could any of them ever anticipate ending up in this room together, so disparate and myriad were their lives before, and yet here they are. Life is spectacularly random, but these three made very specific choices that brought them here, and as we learn about them and what they hide and what they do not, the play unfolds and its power grips us as deftly as the power of this room grips them.
The performances are instinctive and shocking, and unflinchingly real. I’m not ashamed to say that I wept and that each of these brilliant actors on stage made me do so copiously at several different moments.
“Death House” is moving and also funny and alarming and somehow strangely comforting even. That there is grace even in the darkest of places and the most manufactured of departures is beautiful and in the play it is achingly and truthfully told. The play makes no judgement, there’s really no need for politics or preaching and yet it is crystal clear where each and everyone stands, both the characters and the playwright, but still, those positions aren’t at all as obvious as you might think.
Chase Cargill and Sam Anderson
The Road Company is always pushing the limits of our emotions and our minds, and thankfully so. They pick plays that surprise us and challenge us and delight us, but that also make us think deeply about our place in this world and our footprint upon it. Jason Karasev’s “Death House” is another play that fits their ethos perfectly. The fragment of this world he gives us is important and the people in it a perfection of pain and loss, forgiveness and heartbreaking truth. Michael Peretzian directs with a tender lightness that allows his actors to inhabit and to become…bravo.
If you see any play this season let it be this one.
“Death House” is at the wonderfully intimate Road Theatre on Lankershim until March 23, on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.
Sam Anderson, Verity Branco and Chase Cargill.
The Design Team for DEATH HOUSE is as follows:
Set Design by David Mauer; Lighting Design by Derrick McDaniel; Sound Design by David B. Marling; Costume Design by Mary Jane Miller; Properties Design by Christine Joëlle. The Fight Director is Bjørn Johnson. The Production Stage Manager is Maurie Gonzalez. DEATH HOUSE is produced by Carlyle King, Tracey Silver, Brian M. Cole and Carissa Pinckney.