So. Tensions in the air. Panic in the media. Ominous sounds from outside. A sudden, spooky visitor. Supplies running low. Zombies in the streets!
Popular entertainment spends a lot of time there these days, have you noticed? The end of the world is a favorite tourist destination. Splat mayhem is cheap and satisfyingly gross. And anybody who can shamble along, shoulders hunched, can spend a few minutes in makeup and then join the cast.
Variations abound. Lord of the Rings. Star Wars. Game of Thrones. Any fantasy spectacle that requires lots of bodies for destroying with picturesque violence and no need to write speeches or create characters. The movies and television do that so well.
So why mess with such stuff in the theatre, where each corpse comes attached to health plans and labor laws? Where ripped off limbs and squashed heads are hard to do?
Don’t ask me. Ask the La Jolla Playhouse, where a new play called Put Your House in Order is now scratching around with gee-whiz energy but little in the way of terror.
Ike Holter wrote the piece with a delightful knack of urgent, overlapping dialogue. A cast notable more for competence than charisma performs the three roles (yes, just three: Behzad Dabu and Shannon Matesky as the hip kids, Linda Libby as the creepy suburban neighbor) with precision. Director Lili-Anne Brown is understandably preoccupied finding visual variations for three people, two doors and a pistol.
The best thing about this show is the slivers of sunset coaxed around the corners of the bland and blocky Arnel Sancianco scenery by lighting designer Amanda Zieve. (But those projected titles are clever gadgets used ineffectively.)
At least the gun is actually fired. Chekhov would be proud.
(Continues in the Mandell Weiss Forum at UCSD at 7:30 Tuesdays and Wednesdays; at 8 p.m. Thursdays-Saturdays; at 7 p.m. Sundays; and at 2 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays through June 30, 2019.)