Five Dollar Recession Theater Company makes a strong debut with End Days 

Laughing Through the Pain

Laughing Through the Pain

New Nashville startup Five Dollar Recession Theater Company debuted last weekend with an entertaining production of Deborah Zoe Laufer's End Days at Belmont's Black Box Theater. The play closed Sunday.

Laufer's 2007 comedy is driven by the uneasy energy of post-9/11 New York. Yet optimism about the human spirit and some hardy laughter emerged from director Nat McIntyre's lucid staging on designer Nathan Alongi's purposefully claustrophobic apartment set.

The cast of five was led by Belmont University theater majors Madeline Marconi and Dallas C. Woods as teenage protagonists dealing with the frustration of almost zero parental connection. They made for an unlikely but ultimately quite likable and charming twosome, she a ghoulish-hued goth girl and he a slightly annoying but lovable nerd.

As the girl's dad, Craige Hoover made a wonderful transition from shell-shocked World Trade Center survivor to person striving for awareness. Nettie Kraft was his fretful wife, convinced the end is coming and determined to spend her last days doing good works.

Ross Bolen's eccentric turns as both Jesus and Stephen Hawking benefited from their built-in absurdity, and his portrayal of the latter avoided the Speak & Spell-style vocalizing that has come to identify the famous chair-bound scientist. Bolen found his own mirthful way through the character and generated some sincere laughs.

Five dollars for a well-done local premiere? That's a deal. We look forward to more — presuming the Apocalypse doesn't get here first.

Email arts@nashvillescene.com.

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