"Collapse" is a play that tries to locate the "fun" in "dysfunction" - and generally succeeds. Everybody in this story has been through some kind daunting personal setback. Yet for the most part, this is a funny play. In the opening scene, we find a 30-something couple at home. There's a knock at the door. It's a relative from far away, who needs a place to stay, and has a sad story to relate.
Susan: "We were totally shut down. All our funding was cut. Everybody lost their job."
David: "Of course they did."
Hannah: "It's terrible."
Susan: "The budget cuts are beyond draconian. Tey're affecting essential services... I'm angry that I lost my job, but really my heart breaks for all those people we were helping, and now they're going to have to work without."
David: (pause) "Didn't you work for a cable access channel" (Laughter)
But remember, this play is a comedy, with scenes are dominated by kooky characters in whacky situations. The humor isn't really bleak -- it's more of a case of laughter with a desperate edge. This gives the show a certain unpredictable quality. And I find that more attractive than the romantic comedies that have been the B Street's bread and butter in the past. This unconventional approach works, in part because the acting is superior, and because at just 70 minutes long, the show ends before the novelty wears off.
"Collapse" plays at Sacramento's B Street Theatre through July 24th.