One Sheridan Sq. between West Fourth & Washington Sts.
Thursday - Sunday through October 28, $18
The Grapes of Wrath meets The Road Warrior in the excellent Axis Company production of artistic director Randy Sharp’s Last Man Club. In a depression-era middle America Dust Bowl that could double as a barren postapocalyptic landscape, a small family of ragged men and women tries to survive as sandstorms swirl around their deteriorating farm. Friends and kin took off with all the money, leaving the overly practical and far-too-trusting Major (David Crabb) in charge of the mumbling, OCD-riddled Pogord (Spencer Aste), who is waiting for the tank truck to show so that his dried-out sheets can be wetted down; the quirky, ultra-strange Wishful Hi (Lynn Mancinelli), who wears crazy goggles and sees ghosts; and would-be singer Saromybride (Britt Genelin), who wonders whether they should have all headed out to California with the others. As the worst dust storm in modern history approaches, two drifters arrive one at a time: first Middle Pints (George Demas), who has an idea he wants to present to the town’s local Last Man Club, then Henry Taper (Brian Barnhart), who says he’s a scientist on his way to the city to help figure out how to stop the terrible drought. “I can’t take it no more. I really can’t,” Pogord says. “It’s the end of the world,” Wishful Hi proclaims. Writer-director Sharp’s (Hospital) unpredictable dialogue and subtle plot shifts bring a compelling elegance to the proceedings while also making the play relevant to such twenty-first-century concerns as poverty, unemployment, climate change, the housing crisis, war, and a lack of faith in government. Karl Ruckdeschel’s costumes and the simple but effective set cast the production in browns and grays that emphasize the growing destitution, while solid acting all around gives the play an honesty despite the surreal craziness going on. Last Man Club might be set in the past and hint at the future, but it is, sadly, also firmly rooted in the here and now.