Unusual Premise Explores Deeper Issues In R-S Theatrics Premiere Production of “Suicide, Incorporated”

Mark Kelley, Charlie Barron and B. Weller discuss the finer points of a suicide note in R-S Theatric’s production of “Suicide, Incorporated.”

After a reading last year of Chicago playwright Andrew Hinderaker’s “Suicide, Incorporated,” Artistic Director Christina Rios and R-S Theatrics brings a fully staged production to our town with wonderful results. Laced with humor- including the wild premise- this one-act play delves into several disturbing issues that leave you thinking long after the play is over.

B. Weller gives a riveting performance as Scott, owner and operator of Legacy Letters- a fictional company that assists people with suicidal tendencies to “beef up” their suicide letters left for loved ones or, in some cases, anyone who may care. Facing a diminishing clientele, he hires a former Hallmark Card whiz kid, Jason, to increase business. Mark Kelley gives a moving and tortured performance as Jason who has ulterior motives for taking the job- he also volunteers for a suicide prevention hotline and feels responsible for losing his younger brother to suicide.

Charlie Barron bares his soul to Mark Kelley in R-S Theatric’s production of “Suicide, Incorporated.”

As the haunting presence of that brother, Tommy, Aaron Dodd is perfectly cast as a look alike for Jason and displays the same tortured soul. Enter Charlie Barron as Norm as the first client for Jason who tries to lure Norm away from the office and spying eyes of Scott. Barron gives a wrenching performance throughout but particularly in his soliloquy about what led him to these macabre thoughts. There’s also a delightfully comic performance by Mark Saunders as disgruntled employee, Perry, of Legacy Letters who sees his usefulness evaporate as this “new guy” begins to take over. Rounding out the cast is Andrew Keller as a police officer who becomes the catalyst tying two of the suicides together.

Exploring the phenomenon of male suicide and the angst of “victims” left behind, “Suicide, Incorporated” delves into rare territory to bring issues to the forefront that are seldom discussed- for good reason. With touches of humor and pathos, this play and the five outstanding actors make us laugh and squirm a little as we’re confronted with some of these heretofore back-burner subjects. Congrats to R-S Theatrics for once again bringing us challenging works on stage.

Charlie Barron, Aaron Dodd and Mark Kelley in R-S Theatric’s production of “Suicide, Incorporated.”

The creative team once again draws us into this play on a small stage particularly the great lighting design of Dave Hahn which covers the numerous transitions through three acting areas with perfect fluidity. This off-beat Andrew Hinderaker script is not for everyone, but it makes for powerful theatre. And you can’t beat the solid acting ensemble along with strong direction by Christina Rios. Catch “Suicide, Incorporated” at R-S Theatrics at the Gaslight Square Theatre through November 18th. Call them at 314-968-8070 for tickets or more information.

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