Photo by Don Kellogg

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

A Life

A powerful, humbling new play, A Life,  by Adam Bock is now playing over at Playwrights Horizons.  Mr. Bock explores life through a lonely, gay, introverted, quirky, and obsessive character, Nate Martin (David Hyde Pierce).  Not only does he explore his literal life, he explores the fleeting nature of life through his death.

Nate Martin is a complicated man yet at the same time, he's every man.  Frustrations, disappointments, plans, hopes, loves, dreams fill his life.  In the blink of an eye, things could change - and do.  About half of the play is spent watching Nate's body prepared for a funeral.  Life goes on around him, we hear his thoughts, and realize that it is all fleeting.

Nate is into astrology - the stars and planets and what they say about you and how they might explain your life.  To be honest, I'm not sure if that theme was meant to represent religion and its role in the human experience or possibly something more specific to Nate's belief system.  I do know there were no planetary realignments when he died so perhaps it just represents something that in the end, like everything else, is meaningless.

A touching, honest, and sad first scene; A shocking next turn of events with a dash of today's culture of inappropriateness thrown in just to make you shrug your shoulders; and a touching and brutally honest eulogy seen at the funeral capped most specifically by the thoughts from his mostly estranged sister (he was gay and from Minnesota and her comments were dripping with mid-western values and a complete lack of understanding, disappointment, and ultimately and ironically the same loneliness).

There's a funeral joke told by his best friend Curtis (Brad Heberlee) that you can't help but laugh at and at the same time makes you cringe.  Perfectly placed and such great acting around the uncomfortable nature of the whole affair.