A death can make for an interesting beginning, and in “Death before Cocktails” the death in question is the twin sister of the reluctant heroine Lana.
The dead sister, whose suicide brought on by years of illness and a preoccupation with the dramatic, writes in her predictable note that she wishes to be cremated and that her wake should be held in this particular bar where the three most important people in her life have now been ceremoniously gathered. Her sister Lana, Lana’s ex-husband Clive and her ex-boyfriend Will. They are also joined by Will’s newly found evangelical daughter Ruth and Clive’s newly found flamboyant dentist boyfriend Mario.
In Will’s dusty bar in Palm Springs these three erstwhile companions and their unsuspecting sidekicks trade secrets, memories, truths and hidden desires. Their lives have intersected many times in many ways over the years and not always politely. While they struggle to make sense of this untimely death they each have their moments of epiphany and candor, tenderness and betrayal. It’s a little like “Waiting for Godot” but with more laughs and a deeper understanding that Godot will not be attending.
The actors are excellent, fresh, funny, real and clearly thoroughly enjoying the words, the story and the cunning revelations. It’s directed with a lightness that gives them all the room they need.
The writer Laureen Vonnegut is highly accomplished and no stranger to fiction, having written novels, short stories, screenplays and other plays. This is her latest play and she handles the fascinating and charmingly familiar lives of these characters, at least these moments that we see, with the kind of philosophical humor held by only the cleverest of writers. The characters are all horribly flawed of course, as only the best people are, but they accept it, debate it and move on…not cured but not doomed either.
“Death Before Cocktails” is like staying up all night with your very favorite people where nothing is off limits, there is absolutely nothing to lose and forgiveness is served with the morning coffee. Ms Vonnegut brings wit and a little bit of glamor to her characters who are all still just struggling to survive, like the rest of us. It’s a really lovely, funny, fascinating play and I highly recommend it.
It’s a fairly short run, so don’t dawdle, get your tickets soon and join them all at the bar…
April 20 – May 13, Fridays and Saturdays at 8PM, Sundays at 7PM
Theatre 68, 5112 Lankershim Blvd., North Hollywood, 91601
Written by Laureen Vonnegut
Directed by Alex Rotaru & Laureen Vonnegut
Arial Hart – “LANA”
Paul Keany – “CLIVE”
Tom Kearney – “WILL”
Damien Diaz – “MARIO”
Rose Hunter – “RUTH”
Writer / Director Laureen Vonnegut
Director Alex Rotaru
Produced by Theatre 68, Ronnie Marmo and Laureen Vonnegut
Set Design and build by Argent Lloyd
Musical Production by John Schnackenberg and Rob Taylor
Lighting Design and Stage Manager Jennifer Nwene
Graphic Design by Heather Harwood
Publicity by Kuker & Lee PR