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Living life in the apocalypse

11th Hour Theatre Company and Prima Theatre present SOON

In
2 minute read
Four sit on a couch, three of them talking, with one sitting still, focused, concerned.
Nick Blaemire's 'SOON' is a dark comedy in the midst of a climate change-induced apocalypse. (Photo by Songhang Li.)

For its first live performance since pre-pandemic times, 11th Hour Theatre Company in tandem with Lancaster’s Prima Theatre will present the musical SOON, written by Nick Blaemire, in Philadelphia starting this week. Perhaps thematically familiar, the show follows a young woman named Charlie (Imani Moss) as she holes up in her apartment in the days leading up to a climate change-induced apocalypse, watching journalist Wolf Blitzer report the news, comfort eating peanut butter, and hanging out with her Jewish fish Herschel.

Way too SOON

Although its first performance predates the pandemic, SOON draws many parallels to the social ramifications of Covid-19, and the importance of staying connected despite being isolated and uncertain.

“No matter what’s going on the world, whether it’s climate change or whether it’s this pandemic, I think the ability to make sure that you’re still living your life and not just self-isolating and hunkering down and not engaging in some sort of communication with the outside world, is so crucial,” director Michael Philip O’Brien said. “Zoom and FaceTime, those things were never as important as they were in the last two years.”

Also embedded in the show’s narrative lies the notion of chosen family, what that means, and how vital those connections can be in times of crisis. Charlie’s roommate Stevie (Carmen Castillo), Charlie’s boyfriend Jonah (Matt Donzella), and Charlie’s mother Adrienne (Ebony Pullum) all add their own idiosyncrasies to the show.

“I think they’ve all created really fully fleshed out, interesting people with their work in the show,” O’Brien said.

Despite the theoretical heaviness of the show’s themes, SOON is a dark comedy through and through. The protagonist, Charlie, has a very quick-witted, compelling sense of humor that infuses some quirkiness into the piece, O’Brien added. “It’s not just a piece about doom and gloom, it’s actually more of a piece about connection between people, and how humor and love and compassion and connection keep us moving in times of trauma and trouble.”

The music of SOON is rooted in pop and at times a bit of rock, swimming in the contemporary musical vein where the songs serve to move the plot along. O’Brien likened the show’s musical style to that of Be More Chill or even Waitress.

“I think the ability to still find ways to connect to people who mean a lot to us is at the heart of this piece,” O’Brien said. “You have to live your life no matter what’s going on.”

What, When, Where

SOON. By Nick Blaemire, directed by Michael Philip O’Brien. Presented by 11th Hour Theatre Company and Prima Theatre. $40 for general admission, $15 for students and industry workers. October 28 through November 7, 2021, at Christ Church Neighborhood House, 20 North American Street, Philadelphia. (267) 987-9865 or 11thhourtheatrecompany.org; (717) 327-5124 or primatheatre.org.

All indoor Christ Church Neighborhood House events require proof of vaccination to attend. Audience members will be asked to show proof of vaccination at the lobby welcome desk. Accepted forms for proof of vaccination include a physical vaccine card with your name on it or a digital photo of your vaccine card on a cell phone. Face masks or coverings are also required.

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