You could say that "Dying City" is a miracle of dark economy.
The entire play takes place in one room - the living room of an
apartment, with a view of the New York City skyline. And there are
just three characters -- two brothers, identical twins, and the
woman married to one of them.
Sound simple, yet playwright Christopher Shinn ingeniously
layers a vast array of topics into his wide-ranging, disquieting
script. Sometimes, ideas flash by like meteors, like this regretful
observation about why Hollywood's gone downhill.
Kelly: "Think about why we don't have any Brandos, or James
Deans anymore. It's all so coroporate controlled. Nobody's writing
a part that a Brando… Imagine Brando in 'Titanic.' Or James Dean in
'Lord of the Rings.'"
But more often, this gritty play zeros in on how big disasters
color tense personal relationships. The recently married husband
and wife are at odds about starting a family because they can't get
past the shadow of the 9/11 cataclysm both experienced.
Kelly: Peter asked if we were going to have a baby. Were
you just saying it to please him?
Craig: Kelly, we've talked about this 100 times. I want to
wait until I'm teaching. I don't want to take more money from your
Kelly: I don't see what the big deal is.
Craig. The big deal is that he's a c**k. Jesus, we talked
about starting a family, sitting right on that couch. Looking out
at the cloud of death, hanging over the city.
Kelly: Please, please don't invoke that.
Each character carries a closely-held secret, or gets caught
in a lie. Playwright Shinn clearly reveres American dramatists like
Eugene O'Neill and Tennessee Williams, whose great plays dealt with
similar moral failings. Shinn's stressed-out characters try to
avoid talking about the big elephant in the room. . . but that
Driving the show are strong performances by Lyndsy Kail and Chad
Deverman, who plays both twins.
"Dying City" is jarring, by design. But this production at
Capital Stage yields an unsettling dramatic payoff that will leave
you with plenty to chew on.
Dying City continues at Capital Stage through August