Expiration Date at Old Arizona Theater

Aaron Fenster

We don't like to talk about death and dying in America. Oh, we'll watch endless murders on television or even shed a tear for the passing of a beloved character, but we like to push the hard facts of our own passing to the back of our minds. Candy Simmons's new work doesn't let you do that. Through Lucille, a 35-year-old woman with a fast-approaching end date, all kinds of decisions need to be made. Simmons's sometimes funny, often touching, and definitely engaging show takes us through these final months, from when Lucille learns of her late-stage cancer diagnosis through her eventual final days. Simmons doesn't make it easy for her character, who is largely alone in the world. Lucille has no long-term commitments and few friends — certainly not anyone to share the burden. She does have a brother, but she's distant with him, not talking about her condition until she presents him her health-care directive, or living will. Simmons brings all these characters, from the stoner brother to the trying-to-be-helpful doctors, to life as we watch a character go through the routines of life for the final time, using a mixture of acting, movement, and music. She's aided by Parker Genne, who plays a silent nurse who sometimes helps Lucille and who also sings several songs along the way. The elements of the piece could have been integrated better — the introduction of the idea of the health-care directives is particularly clunky — but the show overall is funny, haunting, and breathtakingly honest.

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