Love and Human Extinction: Toronto Fringe Festival 2009
Thematically, many post-apocalyptic stories look backwards and ‘the future’ becomes a slippery concept rather than a narrative eventuality. This is true for Love and Human Extinction, which looks at the last three survivors of an unexplainable phenomenon that killed off the rest of humanity. As a former businessman-turned-grave robber and a former factory worker-turned-religious sentry spar with each other over the affections of the last woman on earth, it becomes clear that they are mostly play-acting, holding on to a semblance of society.
The wardrobes are a wonderfully playful mish-mash of vintage pieces, the weapons are plastic toys and a toy wagon sits in the corner. The childish dynamic between the three survivors is the play’s most intriguing aspect, and Jennifer Neals is especially captivating as Bertie, who lost her pregnancy during the disaster and now slips in and out of lucidity. Unfortunately ‘the past’ ends up hindering the play as the struggle between the characters takes a backseat to long bouts of exposition, one character recalling events as the other two stay frozen in the background.
The expository segments detail several setups that sound intriguing enough you want to see them occur rather than just hear about them, especially one story of a failed group suicide attempt which to this day scars one of the characters. Somewhere in the poetic exchanges between Love and Human Extinction‘s characters and their exposition lies a much better, more interesting character study. And although the play starts wonderfully, its half-paced buildup and lack of a concrete ending or nod to the characters’ futures seems less thematic than it does unfocused.