Review: With a Whimper at Phoenix Theatre 

***1/2
click to enlarge Karen Irwin and Shane Tarplee in 'With A Whimper.'
  • Karen Irwin and Shane Tarplee in 'With A Whimper.'

With A Whimper, the second play in a sci-fi trilogy by newcomer Pete McElligot, places five outlandish characters at the end of the world, literally. As the vicious killer Apostle, Ben Rose is a true star, offering authenticity and humor with each word and every facial expression. Nick Carpenter, donning the mask of an astronaut who's lost his marbles, offers a delightful portrayal of insanity, simultaneously endearing and annoying, and believable through the arc of the story.

Karen Irwin's Sister Planter is our vehicle for understanding this new reality, offering compassion and spot-on comedic timing as the straight (wo)man in the room. However, as the lustful and blind John Boy, Shane Tarplee presents a flat portrayal of a screeching adolescent, his one-note performance failing to plumb the depths expected from a seer who understands the great complexities of the apocalypse.

With A Whimper's world premiere at the Phoenix, which essentially commissioned the last two parts of the McElligot's trilogy, was pushed back a week due to ongoing renovations of the theater space. Perhaps the script, practically fresh from the press, could have done with even more incubation; instead of presenting conflict and action, large chunks of the play are consumed with exposition and explanation. Still, the show engages as it offers a variety of angles on how we each might handle our impending demise. Through August 12 at Phoenix Theatre

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