The second act finds all four penniless and stricken with some physical malady, whether blindness, deafness or broken bones. At some point, Vera—the cruelest and coldest of them—is awakened to the need to forgive and to love, but it's a false, convenient awakening. Too much bile has risen and too much invective has been issued for us to buy Vera's sudden transformation. It feels like an easy way for a playwright to wrap up his story.
Still, Vera urges her three wounded compatriots to give up their ambivalence about life and really live. She admits that she has grown up afraid of love and encourages everyone to face that final taboo and, in unison, to say "love."
They do so, timidly and fearfully, which is immediately followed by the sound of thunder and lightning and a blackout. The supernatural atmospheric response recalls what one of the characters in Roadmost yearns for: magic and miracles, in a time when everything seems so ordinary.
By plays' end, all that is solid has melted into the air. But we're not left with nothing; even so bitter a philosopher as Marx knew that people, however fucked up, are the engines of their own resurrections and "make history." We're left instead with the clear sense that some people—the majority, maybe—choose to not make history, to remain victims, to choose in every minute of every day to stay fucked up.
Road at Empire Theater, 200 n. Broadway, Santa Ana, (714) 547-4688. Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2:30 p.m. $12-$15;Bring a can of food and get one clam knocked off.The Houseguests at Hunger Artists Theatre, 699-A S. State College Blvd., Fullerton, (714) 680-6803. Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 7 p.m. Through June 15. $12-$15.