As they talk about the war, about children, and about love, it seems that they're speaking to each other from different worlds: She from the world of domestic tranquility, he from some filthy corner into which he's been backed by something evil and unseen. She is languid; he is full of hate. They do not truly understand each other until later — when Peter delivers a piece of news, which for Kelly marks the beginning of her own long nightmare and which for us provides an explanation.

And what is that nightmare? What might turn a play about a farewell party and a reunion into a horror show? I don't think I should say. Dying City is about the hidden parts of people, about how corruption can live in the hearts of those we love as well as those we hate, and the only appropriate response is surprise. It doesn't really matter what brought about Kelly's undoing anyway: The interesting question is why she was undone — by Craig, no less than Peter.

The two brothers are very much the same, despite their superficial variances. There is a window in Kelly's apartment through which, in 2001, she and Peter watched the Twin Towers burn and fall. Both Peter and Craig come back to that moment, again and again — talking about what it meant, how it felt. When they do, they stand in front of that window, looking out, as though they could see the towers burning still, and the same funny look comes into their eyes. Not grief, necessarily, so much as curiosity.

A scene of awkward conversation between Kelly and Craig.
George Schiavone
A scene of awkward conversation between Kelly and Craig.


Dying City, written by Christopher Shinn; directed by Richard J. Simon. Presented through May 9 at the Mosaic Theatre,12200 W. Broward Blvd., Plantation. 954-577-8243; click here.

It's worth noting that the window isn't part of the set at all. It is affixed to the fourth wall — the invisible wall through which the audience views the play's action. Craig and Peter are looking out at the audience when they see those flaming husks. They look at ordinary people, and they see a disaster.

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