Running with Scissors
Directed by Bryan Fonseca
Through Jan. 30 Phoenix Theatre's 2005 started off with a potential Best Of; how can you top that?
Running with Scissors, the new play by Michael McKeever, is receiving its second-ever production. It is also the play the Phoenix produced as a reading at the National Showcase of New Plays in Chicago in July of 2004. Taking it to the stage here in Indy was a marvelous idea. The script is a hoot.
It opens with Charlie Cox (Chuck Goad) reciting the first lines of his memoir into a tape recorder. He has recently been diagnosed with Lou Gehrig's Disease and is facing death - literally. He picks up Wally (Rich Komenich) in the middle of the desert, thinking he is a hitchhiker, and learns that Wally is the embodiment of Charlie's death. When the car dies, both trudge into a tiny motel where Charlie meets Nell (Deborah Sargent) and another anthropomorphed being (Tiffany Shoemaker), Kiki. Kiki and Wally vie for control over Charlie's last few months, while Charlie, who "played it safe" his whole life, debates how to spend his remaining time.
It sounds heavier than it is. Though the moral of living every day to its fullest is present, the characters in the show keep it from reading like a self-help book. Sargent and Goad are good-natured, rather simple people, both with their odd, defining quirks. Their realism is what helps the audience relate. Shoemaker and Komenich as the abstracts-incarnate are the ones who are larger, more funny in their complete disregard for reality. The cast of four, plus one incessant, dying father-in-law who is never seen but often heard, do top-notch work.
The show is rife with wit and humor, and the ending makes you feel good without assaulting you in a Hallmark sort of way. Director Bryan Fonseca helps the message along with subtle effectiveness.
Highly recommended. Running with Scissors continues at the Phoenix Theatre, 749 N. Park Ave., through Jan. 30; call 635-PLAY.