(K. Brent Tomer),
FEW plays deal directly with death. To be sure, plenty of stage characters die, but the grim fact that ultimately every character will die, along with every member of the audience, is something most playwrights politely overlook. This is understandable. The certainty of death may be ever-present, but most people come to the theatre to celebrate life. Only occasionally will a play acknowledge that these are two sides of the same coin: that life is precious because it is finite, and the inevitability of death ensnares everyone. Remarkably two such plays recently opened at the Signature Theatre in New York.
At 32 Branden Jacobs-Jenkins has already snagged a MacArthur “genius” grant and several top playwriting honours, and he came close to winning a Pulitzer prize. His plays deploy a heady array of theatrical styles and devices to interrogate America’s uncomfortable relationship with race and class. His latest work, “Everybody”, directed by Lila Neugebauer, is an adaptation of a 15th-century morality play in which an everyman learns he is dying and must give God an account of his life. The doomed fellow desperately searches for someone…Continue reading