BWW Review: NOAH: APOCALYPSE at LiveArtDC
Dark humor is common in DC these days, probably because reality in now stranger than fiction. Whether you feel like having a fun night out or you want to explore your options for life in post-apocalyptic DC, LiveArtDC's latest offering, Noah: Apocalypse may be just the thing for you.
Playwright and fellow Millennial Amanda Quain readily admits, and I wholeheartedly agree, that the market is oversaturated with plays and literature about the apocalypse. So the question here, what separates Noah: Apocalypse from the post-apocalyptic noise?
DC Reynolds Bar is a small bar but a venue that LiveArtDC knows very well. Noah: Apocalypse works in this space by seamlessly incorporating the audience into it's post-apocalyptic reality. Director Clare Shaffer and Fight Choreographer Carl Brandt Long have to think creatively given the limited space available to their actors so don't be surprised if an actor climbs up on the bar behind you or if you're asked to help carry a dead body. The acoustics in the bar are tricky and some actors were difficult to hear.
Noah: Apocalypse is set on the one-year anniversary of the bomb that destroyed DC. Noah (Raven Wilkes), her wife Dalia (Lizzi Albert), and Dalia's younger sister Sarah (Nerissa Hart), an ardent fan of virtual realities and cosplay, took cover in Noah's family bunker. But right now, we're in a bar and you're probably drinking, so it seems fitting that Noah: Apocalypse kicks off with a party. After all, we're all still alive! Actors arrive slinging handles of liquor and invite audience members to play card games, drinking games, and take shots. And it's a lot of fun. Drinking is encouraged but never required.
Noah: Apocalypse makes great use of DC nostalgia. The performance incorporates a drinking game that asks you to identify what you miss about the pre-apocalyptic world. What does Sarah miss about the pre-apocalyptic world? Duh, Thomas Sweet in Georgetown. I agree.
As time goes by, Noah and her family welcome new members: Ollie (Daniel Westbrook), a soulful troubadour, Shem (Shaquille Stewart) a former hit man, and Lee (Christian M.A. Campbell), a HUGE fan of Margaritaville.
Families fight and Noah's family is no exception. It doesn't take long to work out who is in love with whom and who rubs whom the wrong way. Their tense familial truce is shot to hell when Dalia is attacked by a Harbinger; mysterious, religious fanatics into human sacrifice. Her fast-talking savior, outsider Jay (Jasmine Jones), brings chaos in her wake. Noah's family will never be the same.
Noah: Apocalypse is a dynamic, contemplative production interspersed with bouts of mud slinging that would make a Congressman wince. Westbrook's lilting voice charges the atmosphere, blending spoken word with musical narrative. A plenitude of by-gone pop hits and Disney tunes will resonate strongly with Millennials. Wisecracks and puns make way for brooding monologues that reveal the depth of loss suffered by Noah's family.
The hugely talented cast masterfully builds tension, intertwining dark humor with the messy practicalities of post-apocalyptic reality. But then Noah: Apocalypse just ends, abruptly, leaving its audience craving a heroic gesture or even a glimmer of hope.
All in all, despite the fizzle, Noah: Apocalypse is still a fun night out and an interesting take on post-apocalyptic life in DC. Drink, be merry, and celebrate. Against all odds, you've survived another year in DC.
Running Time: 2 hours and 30 minutes including one intermission
Advisory: 21 & Up only; Not handicap accessible
NOAH: APOCALYPSE runs until September 18th at DC Reynolds Bar. For tickets, visit liveartdc.com or try your luck at the door one hour before show time.