Suicide, Incorporated is weird. At least, the premise it proposes is weird. The play is about a company that will write suicide notes for you – or polish one that you've written, so it more effectively conveys your pain, anger, despair, or whatever has driven you to suicide and that will create the guilt or regret that you want survivors to feel.
In the play, this bizarre business really provides the setting for two stories of loss and despair. Norm plans to kill himself because of his failure on his wedding night. It destroyed his marriage. And him. Norm comes to the business for help in writing a suicide letter that will plead with his wife for understanding and forgiveness. Really, he'd like it to win her back, but he despairs of that. Or does he?
The other story is that of Jason. He blames himself for the suicide of his younger brother, who was in effect his ward. A professional writer – he used to write cards for Hallmark – Jason takes a job at Suicide, Incorporated, as a kind of mole. His purpose is to meet people planning to kill themselves so he can try to talk them out of it. That would sabotage the business but perhaps salve his guilt for his brother's death.
We get to watch both people wallow in pain and self-pity, at length, sometimes at agonizingly deliberate length. If that's your cup of tea, you can drink a lot of it at Suicide, Incorporated.
As Norm, Charlie Barron is as intense and committed as always in a typically rich performance. Mark Kelley must play Jason closer to the chest, as he's hiding his true motivation and action. The fun in all this grimness is found in B. Weller's presentation of Scott, owner of the suicide-letter business. Playwright Hinderaker makes him a prime example of the man whose eye is always on the main chance and the profit to be derived therefrom. Weller takes the part and runs with it, turning on a dime to wring compliance from his hapless underlings. Mark Sanders plays the most hapless of those underlings. Andrew Keller has a brief turn as a cop who brings the bad news of a suicide to Scott and his company – or is it good news? Aaron Dodd makes touching, carefully modulated appearances as Jason's suicidal brother, both in flash-backs and as a ghostly projection of Jason's mind.
Christina Rios's direction makes good use of the small stage at the Gaslight Theatre, though I wish the pace had been tighter at times. Cat Baelish designed the costumes and Dave Hahn the lights.
You'll find strong performances of a sometimes witty, sometimes overwrought script at R-S Theatrics' Suicide, Incorporated.