‘Dy­ing City’

Metro USA (Boston) - - NEWS -

When the Fac­tory Theatre abruptly closed last fall, many of Bos­ton’s fringe theater com­pa­nies had to find new homes in a hurry. With no place to stage their sum­mer pro­duc­tion of “Dy­ing City,” fringe stal­wart Happy Medium opted for home­grown theater in the Ja­maica Plain condo of the show’s two ac­tors, Kiki Samko and Michael Un­der­hill.

The real-life new­ly­weds play Kelly, a griev­ing widow, and Craig/Peter, her de­ceased hus­band and his twin brother, in an in­ti­mate 80-minute play set in Kelly’s liv­ing room. Ini­tially, the ex­pe­ri­ence feels awk­ward, as you traipse up the steps into the ac­tors’ home, where an au­di­ence of 20 watches the play un­fold in a per­for­mance space usu­ally known as their din­ing room.

But the in­ti­macy works so well that the fa­mil­ial dys­func­tion starts to feel like pain you share with the char­ac­ters. At times, the in-your-face emo­tions teeter on over­pow­er­ing, leav­ing you squirm­ing in your seat.

Part of the pro­duc­tion’s au­then­tic­ity comes from the im­pec­ca­ble ex­e­cu­tion of ev­ery­day house­hold sounds like a ring­ing door­bell and whistling teaket­tle. Samko’s Kelly re­peat­edly fum­bles with the TV re­mote so con­vinc­ingly you have to won­der how the ac­tress fares when she’s home alone.

Di­rec­tor Cameron Cronin and pro­duc­tion man­ager Mikey DeLoreto nicely chore­o­graph the play’s mul­ti­tude of en­trances, ex­its and quick cos­tume changes by Un­der­hill in a cramped space, mak­ing it all look seam­less and nat­u­ral.

But ul­ti­mately it’s the pow­er­ful per­for­mances of the duo that give this pro­duc­tion its weight, not the un­usual stage. Us­ing glasses and cos­tume changes to dif­fer­en­ti­ate iden­ti­cal twins may sound cliched, but Un­der­hill im­bues each with phys­i­cal char­ac­ter­is­tics and emo­tional traits that make them unique. In one scene, shift­ing glasses to the top of his head makes the de­lin­eation of the two crys­tal clear.

Samko im­bues Kelly with a dark un­der­cur­rent of re­pressed emo­tions that be­lie the griev­ing widow’s out­ward ap­pear­ance.

To­gether

the

char­ac­ters Through July 18 Lo­ca­tion re­vealed upon ticket pur­chase $22 - $35 www.brown­pa­pertick­ets.com/ event/1238581 www.hap­pymedi­umthe­atre.com wreak havoc and leave noth­ing but emo­tional wreck­age in the room. The ac­tors, on the other hand, are left with the cleanup.

The “Dy­ing City” ac­tors would ap­pre­ci­ate if you would re­frain from cri­tiquing the decor.

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