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Apocalyptic Vaudeville

Want a little relief from the oppressive darkness of the Claire Danes-Mandy Patinkin dyad in Homeland? (I ask this as a devoted Homeland fan.) You may want to check out The Last Two People on Earth - an Apocalyptic Vaudeville. It's showing this month at the American Repertory Theater in Cambridge.

It may be hard to fathom how a show premised on utter earthly devastation caused by climate change could be easier to watch than a TV drama about America's covert operations in the Middle East. Through levity and lyricism mixed with plenty of pathos, Mandy Patinkin and his co-star Taylor Mac achieve this miracle.

Ferocious winds and rising seas provide an atmospheric backdrop for Apocalyptic Vaudeville, but that's where the environmental sermonizing stops. Instead, the show traces a path that lies somewhere between mime and musical, with Patinkin and Mac tapping into tunes familiar and unfamiliar, playing to the audience and off one another in a scrappy rhapsody of loss, remembered love, and ambiguous affection. They reach for people and things they can no longer have, and for each other as the last two men on earth.

If you're looking for a linear narrative fueled by rich dialogue, this isn't the show for you. (The only words uttered are in song.) But if you're ready to be entertained by two very gifted performers who have the disintegrating world as their stage, open your eyes and ears and enjoy the apocalyptic journey back to vaudeville and toward a very uncertain and scary future.