A review by Suzanne Birrell.
The End Times by Jesse Mu-En Shao now showing at the Skylight Theatre is both disturbing and impactful. The story draws you in slowly to the life line of a religious cult. The joy and freedom expressed in the beginning turns to doubt and enslavement. Temptation to do the right thing which is not the right thing convolute the story. Nothing is as it seems. The house leader Jamie advises the protagonist Tim not to listen to his mind while continually playing mind games with the tortured Tim. As Tim questions the house rules and the apparent random enforcement of the rules, slick and oily Jamie manages to paint lies as truth and play on the fear of being left behind in the end times. The End Times is a psychological drama that has you sitting on the edge of your seat until the very end. Which way will Tim go? Will he be sucked into the mire or will he escape. You'll have to see the play to find out. No spoiler's here.
Christian T. Chan plays a dynamic and passionate Tim. He wants to believe but can't reconcile himself with leaving a family member behind. Nick Cimiluca plays Jamie and is thoroughly hated by the end of the show-great job there. Matt Pascua plays Evan who asks a question and is kicked out of the brotherhood only to be tortured by the doubt of being left out. Alexander Pimentel plays a joyful Seth for whom all the rules work but who stands in cold judgement with the pack.
Mariah Robinson plays Ruthann who is the love interest of Tim and Seth. She manages to appear honest and forthright while playing games with Tim's emotions. Joe Spano plays the part of Nelson, the leader of the Cult, whose part is greatly enhanced by Projection Designer Lily Bartenstein.
(left Christian T. Chang, Joe Spano, and Nick Cimiluca)
The Direction by Jon Lawrence Rivera enhanced a well written script. As is necessary in any drama there were moments of laughter. The dream sequence was particularly riveting. A shout of Well Done! to the entire production crew: Scenic Design by Christopher Scott Murillo, Light Design by McLeod Benson, Sound Design by Phill Driscoll, Production Stage Manager Christopher Hoffman. Costume Design by Mylette Nora. Congrats to Casting Director Raul Clayton Staggs. This is one of those plays that seemed to be cast on sheer ability.
Written by a former cult member, The End Times is a play you should see. Unsettling as it is entertaining, The End Times will take you down the road from the first "Amen." Don't miss this one.
The End Times is a co-production of Skylight Theatre and Playwrights Arena
Extended through May 29 at the Skylight Theatre Company.
1816 ½ No. Vermont. Los Angeles, 90027
Reservations 213-761-7061 or online at http://skylighttix.com
Listen to Interviews with the actors with Ashton Marcus