When one is pondering the apocalypse, the word “sprightly” does not often come to mind.
Yet that descriptor certainly applies to Cory Hinkle’s “Apocalypse Play,” a thematically slight but lively new comedy presented by Moving Arts at the Atwater Village Theatre.
Some kind of climatological cataclysm that commenced after an unspecified war has killed all of humankind. Well, almost all. In the aftermath, pirates and roving gangs of cannibals scavenge for the few remaining survivors.
Jane (Megan Kathleen Duffy) and her ex-boyfriend, Chip (Nick Ballard), have managed to survive by hiding out in a camouflaged apartment stocked with canned goods — a hidden haven that the couple secured only after Chip killed one of the neighbors.
A self-absorbed television actor, Chip sees their situation as a prime opportunity to repopulate the planet, but the people-hating Jane, who is quite enjoying this apocalypse, is happy to let the human race dwindle into extinction. The arrival of the cannibalistic Henry (Brandon Bales) — coincidentally, Jane’s old beau from Brooklyn — adds fatal complications to an already charged scenario.
Hinkle’s unusually structured play suspends notions of chronology and reality as the characters — including River (Connor Kelly-Eiding), a dead visitant who has an unlikely flirtation with Chip — act out versions of what is and what might have been.
Hinkle’s piece artfully mingles the dire and the playful, a divide that director Darin Anthony confidently straddles in his effervescent, unflaggingly well-paced staging.
Among the excellent cast, Ballard is particularly effective as a handsome, delightfully dim egotist so accustomed to female adoration that Jane’s rejection boggles his meager mental powers. Sweetly yearning, he is a tender heart adrift in a rabid new world.
In the long run, the play’s claustrophobic, entertainingly random chatter may not stick in the mind. But in the short run, it’s a prime divertissement that gleans ample amusement from civilization’s wreckage.
♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦
Where: Atwater Village Theatre, 3269 Casitas Ave., Atwater Village
When: 8 p.m. Friday, 5 p.m. Saturday, 4 p.m. Sunday; ends Sunday
Information: (323) 472-5646. movingarts.org
Running time: 1 hour, 10 minutes
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