Pagliaccis, a painfully serious piece by Harim Sanchez, tackles the messy aftermath of an unexpected suicide of Zane (Eric Barnard), a bright and troubled young man. The play achieves a deep level of sensitivity and surprising humor as those left behind search for answers and summarize the totality of their loss.

The story follows Tarik (Jesse Atijie Robertson) and Suzanne ( Daniela Rivera), Zane’s best friend and sister, as they hastily sort the disaster Zane has left in his wake. In a well measured performance, Robertson’s Tarik is evasive and withheld, revelatory of his relationship with Zane. He finds an emotional release during the final moments of the play that bring tears to my eyes as I write; primal and full of pain. Daniela Rivera’s performance as Suzanne is strong and steady; she’s the one to step in and take care of business.

An especially powerful performance by Eric Barnard as recently departed Zane offers a clear view into the complex persona of a deeply troubled man. Barnard plays the role with vulnerability and tenderness. The mask he wields is literally melting before our eyes as he drowns in self loathing and becomes increasingly isolated, both by his own actions and the intentional distancing of those closest to him. The fragility he finds in the final moments leading up to his suicide is almost too difficult to witness.

Director Eric White navigates with clarity and precision, finding ways to beautifully overlap time and place, creating the piece itself as a bit of a blur, wholly appropriate for characters in the throes of grief. A stellar debut by first-time playwright Harim Sanchez, who manages to capture the deeply felt pain and confusion of those dealing with the aftermath of a suicide in a way that is both potent and poetic, accessible and raw.

Suicide offers no closure,no answers, no peace. Only pain, regret, sorrow. There’s no right answer, except forgiveness. Love well, friends, you never know who’s life depends on it.


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