Dead Zone

CPT shakes post-holiday blues with a play about suicide.

Daniel Elihu Kramer found inspiration for Love Suicide (which he wrote and directs) in the most unlikely of bedfellows: an 18th-century Japanese play and an internet chat room for people thinking about ending it all. "I became fascinated with the challenge of putting together all these elements that have to deal with each other," says the Kenyon College prof. "It's beautiful, but the fact is, people are going to kill themselves."

The venerable classic Love Suicides at Sonezaki grabbed its story from the headlines, circa 1703 Japan, after a pair of Romeo and Juliet-like lovers offed themselves. Mere weeks later, a play depicting the tragic events was staged. Recently, Kramer read about suicide chat rooms, and he immediately traced a connection. "There's something everyday about it, in a weird way," he says. "People are now trying to find suicide partners online."

Love Suicide — which premieres tonight as part of Cleveland Public Theatre's Big [Box] series — combines narrative, video, and a little bit of music. "The play has an ability to find beauty in all kinds of odd places," says Kramer. "And, surprisingly, it ends up being quite hopeful."
Jan. 13-14, 8 p.m.; Sun., Jan. 15, 3 p.m.