By Jay Menard
When is life worth living? When does living merely become existence and, once you reach that point, where’s the value in going on? Do we ever stop living? Or are there always going to be new pomegranates to discover.
Whisper Into My Good Ear is a two-man exploration of the end of life — and the question of whether we should take matters into their own hands, or let nature take its course.
The two main characters, played by Pat O’Brien and Lawrence Ripp have lived lives filled with sorrow and challenges. Ripp’s character has a wife who has spent over three decades in a home, suffering from some sort of Alzheimer’s or dementia-based disease. He is losing his sight and has experienced homelessness. He worries about a future without vision that may see him back to begging. Conversely, O’Brien’s character is lonely, has no family, and he harbours a secret that’s been tearing him apart for decades.
As the two men sit on a park bench, they discuss their future — one that’s set to prematurely end as the two have entered into a suicide pact. Over the duration of the play, they discuss the pros, cons, and sheer lunacy of what they’re about to do.
The play is a study in characterization. O’Brien is uncomfortably rigid throughout the performance, tortured from inside with this secret that must burst forth. Ripp is more animated and full of life as he vacillates between embracing their pact and having second thoughts.
The duo enjoy a wonderful chemistry. They feed off each other’s energy, or lack thereof, masterfully, and they execute their dialogue with impeccable timing. Whisper into my Good Ear is an enjoyable show dealing with a challenging subject matter.
**** – Four out of five stars
This review originally appeared on theatreinlondon.ca