By: Nicole Itkin
I didn’t know what to expect going in to watch “A Eulogy for Roman,” and the unexpected is what I got.
As I walk in, the ushers greet me with condolences. I nod and murmur a thank you.
The space is small; the only set piece a table in the corner, with flowers and an urn perched on top. On the table, there’s a vase with flowers and an urn. The sunflowers are cheery, the deep blue urn mournful.
The door bangs open, and Milo (Brendan George) runs in. He greets us— he’s rambling, nervous. He’s happy we’re here, but sad he has to be. He’s a character for sure: scared, stressed, and incredibly likable.
As the play starts, Milo keeps rambling, trying to give a eulogy for his best friend Roman, but entirely unsure of what to say. Really, that’s the whole point. Words are a shade of support. They’re an attempt, not a solution.
More words, maybe? Is that the answer? Milo turns to us, to the audience, to ask for help. He asks us to help him by sharing our stories. And by helping him complete a Life Points bucket list that he and Roman had set out to complete before Roman had died.
What is overwhelmingly successful is the audience participation. Every question Milo asks has participants willing to share, even with answers that are extremely personal. Every task he asks us to help him with has willing participants: even push-ups! We laugh about and with each other; never maliciously, but consistently.
Through the range of surprises during the show (audience participation isn’t exactly planned for), George doesn’t break character once. It’s the force of his personality and his ability to handle what’s thrown his way that makes him the perfect person for the role.
With that said, I wish Milo had more of a backstory. There are certainly many stories during the evening, and and we find out information about his life. But I wish there was more. And I wish, especially, that we had heard more about the people in Milo’s life. We hear many stories about Roman, of course, and Milo also frames the “popular kids” as a major roadblock in his own life; however, his not mentioning anyone else gave me a slightly one-dimensional image of him.
I wish, as well, that there had been more nuance in the emotions Milo, himself, portrays. With that said, he certainly made me emotional: I was in tears more than a few times, and laughing hysterically more than a few times. A roller coaster!
There are so many quotes from the evening that stand out to me. Topics range from the difference between a floor and a dance floor to questions behind the word “Goodbye.”
The show’s a memory, and a real feeling.
Walking out, everyone’s friendly, happy to keep talking to each other, grateful to have sat through the show together. “A Eulogy for Roman” has been extended through September 3rd— go see it.
59E59 Theater through September 3; erformance schedule: Tuesday – Saturday at 7:30PM, Saturday – Sunday at 2:30PM.