Sunday, March 29, 2015

 last night.

LIVE! FROM THE LAST NIGHT OF MY LIFE was one of those plays I read about after it happened, one of those plays I was always sorry I didn’t get to see. It belonged to that era of theatre-going when I went to ACT a lot, maybe sometimes the Rep, but I hadn’t discovered any of the little theaters that are all over Seattle. I had been going to Strawberry Theatre Workshop for a few years already and I had just discovered New Century Theatre Company. I had already walked away from Intiman when they imploded, finally, in the spring of 2011. Everything changed for me after that. My theatre-going life is divided into two distinct periods, Before Intiman Imploded, and After.

But we were talking about LIVE! FROM THE LAST NIGHT OF MY LIFE. Written and directed by Wayne Rawley, it is being remounted with the entire original cast and almost the entire original crew. It is one of the funniest plays I’ve ever seen, and also one of the saddest. Doug Sample works the graveyard shift in a convenience store, and tonight is going to be the last night of his life, because at the end of his shift, he is going to kill himself. Meanwhile, all night long he has to deal with shitty customers and a talking advertisement and with all the people in his life, past and present, and occasionally future, who keep walking in and out, with the occasional dream dance sequence with his secret backup dancers. Wouldn’t our lives all be better if we had backup dancers to follow us around?

What makes the play beautiful is two things: the mind-numbing ache of working a minimum-wage job and being told, over and over, that you could just do so much more if you would try and live up to your potential. And also this: the absolute emptiness of depression. It’s so easy to say, well, just one day more. Just get through one day more. There are things worth living for. But what do you do when you don’t see anything in your life worth living for? When there is no amount of love that can drown out the voices in your head that say, you are worthless? That you’ll never do anything and you’ll never be anyone, and you are just going to be stuck here, day in and day out, in this shitty little convenience store?

The saddest, most heartbreaking thing about LIVE! FROM THE LAST NIGHT OF MY LIFE is all the moments where Doug might have decided, well, ok, maybe I won’t kill myself tonight. All the moments where someone walking in the door could stop him, all the times when someone could have just been there five minutes earlier and help him find something worth living for. The sunrise that floods the convenience store windows comes too late. The cop who almost finds the gun in his bag doesn’t open the bag. The friend who loves him can’t quite reach the darkness inside him, no matter how hard she tries. There is no saving Doug, just as there is no saving so many people, every day, all the time. But there is still hope for some of us.

The National Suicide Prevention Hotline can be reached online at or by phone at 1 (800) 273-8255.

LIVE! FROM THE LAST NIGHT OF MY LIFE is produced by Theatre 22 and is playing at 12th Ave Arts through April 18th. Tickets here:

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