Ring in the New

The cast members of End's Eve: The Feast of 2012 congregate to ring in the new year, but they do so on Dec. 21, a few days earlier than tradition dictates. Why? Because, according to ancient Mayan prophecy, on that date in 2012 the world will end and be reborn. And so Leo (Nic Few) and his partner, Davis (Ethan Matthews), have decided to throw a costume party commemorating this passage. Written by Jennifer Gnisci and Hilary Park, the play follows the lives of these characters as midnight nears. Tuly (Marnye Young) is an eccentric Southern belle who relies on the comfort of Jack Daniels and special mushrooms, and has a habit of taking her beloved Mick (Tony Naumovsky) for granted. Xi (Devon Berkshire), hints that the personal demons she expelled when giving birth to daughter, Pi (Lauren Orkus), may indeed be returning.

Unfortunately, with a cast this size, it is difficult to familiarize the audience with all characters equally. I found that some important details explaining their backgrounds and histories with one another were missing.

Still, Young does an exceptional job conveying the play's theme of freedom and fear with a bold performance that's dynamic enough to draw viewers in but warm enough to show why the other characters are drawn to her. Orkus is also worth noting for effortlessly playing a young child quite younger than her actual age. And Timothy Smallwood hits the appropriate enigmatic notes as the mysterious guest Bardo.

As is the case with many shows at the New York International Fringe Festival, the play sometimes suffers from a kind of slapdash mayhem. For example, at certain times various party guests retreat to what is supposed to be a rooftop, but it appears as though they are merely walking to another part of Tania Bijlani's apartment set. Director Erik Bryan Slavin has a difficult task, always having to stage his full cast and move them around in various groups before the audience gets bored with the positioning in front of them. And when they're in the background, some actors appear to break character, simply watching the action, to which they should be indifferent.

Ultimately, what End's Eve portrays best is the mood. Slavin and the writers suggest an atmosphere of insecurity, where the world the characters know and the rules that govern it are coming to an end. It's both exciting and scary, just like real life.

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