“Everyone loves an adventure. Everyone loves to laugh. Everyone loves to feel significant, and to know that they are special. Everyone wants to be the hero of their story.” Adam Lubitz’s “It’s Not the End of the World” easily tackles each of these ideas with a nod, a wink and a cheesy one-liner. As one would expect of an experienced artist like Mr. Lubitz (he holds two arts degrees from Brown, an MFA in performance from Columbia, and is a professor at the New York Conservatory for Dramatic Arts) and a show with so much development time (it began as Mr. Lubitz’s undergraduate capstone project ten years ago), “It’s Not the End of the World” is polished to a fine shine. The story is tight and moves smoothly, the many characters are distinct and memorable, and the show maintains a campy and self-aware sense of humor that serves its pulpy and over-the-top narrative. “It’s Not the End of the World” is the story of Ned, a hapless young man who shampoos rats for a living. He becomes embroiled in a plot to start World War III, filled with spies, secrets, daring adventure and quirky humor. All the characters—the hyperviolent and macho FBI agent, the drunken and inept Irishman, the self-righteous German supervillain, the brusque and jolly agent-turned-pizzeria-owner Vinnie—are only archetypes at first glance. Each character, through words or actions, brings to mind some interesting and relevant idea. For example, the macho agent casts a light on toxic masculinity and abuse of authority. Vinnie, through his (rather bad) poetry and love for his daughter, demonstrates the sensitive side many men suppress. Wally, Ned’s nebbish roommate, and Allison, Ned’s romantic interest and Vinnie’s delivery girl/daughter/undercover federal agent, both provide insights about sexism in the workplace. While the plot is predictable and spoofs classic spy movies (especially those of James Bond), it is the glue that holds together compelling characters and an impressive comic execution. Mr. Lubitz, with the help of minimal costume changes and props, slides his voice and body effortlessly between a diverse cast of characters. He builds the world of “It’s Not the End of the World” thoroughly and convincingly. Drawing the audience in with a familiar story, he brings forth both hearty laughter and thoughtful consideration. “It’s Not the End of the World” is a first-class demonstration that comedy can have deeper meaning, that familiar stories can still engage and surprise, and that sometimes, the person you’d least expect to make a difference can change everything. “It’s Not The End of the World” Written and Performed by Adam Lubitz Oct. 13 at 7:30pm Photo: courtesy of the production United Solo 2018 Theatre Row 410 West 42nd Street New York City
CHANCE MORGAN is a writer and director currently based in New Jersey. He has worked for Dorset Theatre Festival, Northern Stage, and Bay Street Theatre. He is a graduate of Colorado Mesa University’s theatre program, and spends his time developing his screenplays and musicals.