Well, I hope you enjoyed intermission. Enough snacks? Not too long a line at the restrooms? All settled in? Good, well here we go.... this act gets more complicated so here we go...
The curtain raises with Martin seated where he was when he began his flashback. The other members of the group are slumped dead around him. He is looking off into the distance as we hear the faint echo of the six gunshots... the lights change, the others snap up and are still waiting patiently for Martin to explain his whereabouts... he didn't really kill them it was just a fantasy... gotcha!
(And no, I'm not making this up... this trick was actually one of SS's first ideas about the play, he knew how he wanted to end the first act with this trick of "killing" all the characters.)
Now we spend the rest of the act with various characters beginning to get suspicious about Martin's story as he covers his tracks. According to the Dr.'s appt book Martin had been in earlier in the day (but, of course, we know that was his son, Martin Jr.) and they wonder what he was doing after his appt, before arriving with Dossie. Eventually Greg (owner of the bldg) calls down and asks the doorman to bring up the sign in sheet from the lobby. The doorman Roberto (Al Espinosa) arrives with the sheet. He is a stoned young man, who refers to Martin as Mr. "Jiss-hole", his prononciation of Chisholm.
Martin tries to talk around Roberto's story so as not to reveal the truth about his son. As the group peruses the sheet they notice one thing, that Dossie's signature is different from when she arrived for her private appt. and arrived for the group appt. It is revealed that she was having an affair with the Dr. and was the woman who snuck out the back door when Martin arrived. Roberto would sign in for her the second time, hence the different signatures. So she, upon discovering Martin, was trying to cover as much as he was.
Eventually Roberto is dismissed to go back downstairs, Martin follows him out into the elevator lobby under some pretense. He grabs the clipboard and pushes Roberto down the open elevator shaft. He takes the sheet, puts it in his pocket and drops the clipboard down as well, replacing the yellow safety tape. He returns to the outer office. The others decide to look around the Dr.'s papers and such for more clues. They mostly settle into the inner office, Nam-Jun tackles trying to figure out his computer password. At some point Pamela, wanting a cigarette and not having a light, asks Martin if he has a spare and before he notices grabs his coat to search for one. She has felt the weight and discovered the hidden murder weapon although she doesn't remove it from his pocket. She then knowingly asks him if he'd like to join her for a smoke outside in the lobby.
Out in the lobby she leans dangerously against the doorframe of the open elevator shaft as she asks him about the possibility of being made the Cultural Commissioner for New York (ie she's blackmailing him to use his political connections). She also wonders why the working elevator is still on their floor if Roberto took it down to the lobby. She thinks he is in the bathroom and tries to get him out so she can use it. Then we get a great scene with Martin really wanting to give her a shove and she opening herself up greatly to the possibility by, at one point, standing directly in front of the open shaft with her arms outstretched and only her hands resting on the sides of the doorframe. Martin makes a move for it but misses and just barely escapes plummeting down the 12 floors himself. Eventually, however, he gets her and we say goodbye to Pamela down the chute. Martin again replaces the safety tape.
Upon returning to the office, when the others wonder where Pamela is Martin says she was sick of the whole business and went home.
Then it becomes Vassili's turn to start figuring things out. With the others in the inner office he confronts Martin with questions about the Dr.'s schedule book and the way the names are written in it. He wants Martin to use his connections with the Met. Museum to by Vassili's large collection of majolica figures. Martin gets the book and rips out the incriminating pages. He is then confronted by Vassili in front of the group.
I believe it is about this time that Nam-Jun cracks the computer and discovers the Dr.'s secret files. She and the others are outraged that he was using them as guinea pigs for a book, based on the seven deadly sins. He gathered together seven people who represented the sins and who each had been responsible for the death of another person (I don't remember all the details but I think Nam-Jun had caused a colleague to commit suicide because of a scathing criticism she wrote, Greg had covered up the death of workmen at one of his building sites, I don't recall the details of Dossie and Vassili death related events, others were explained in Act One). But anyway... they also discover the Dr's dictaphone with his introduction to the book talking about the seven sins. And also realize that the figurines around the doctors office are all statues representing the sins, except one is missing (anger), it being the murder weapon in Martin's pocket. Vassili seems very interested in the figures (they are silver).
This is where it starts to get more complicated, I hope I get the events in the right order...
Greg figures out that Pamela didn't really leave since the elevator is still on their floor and she didn't take her coat. Martin and Greg team up to trick the others and eventually Martin simply goes into the inner office and shoots Vassili, Dan, Dossie and Nam-Jun. Greg is surprised by his drastic measures and then Martin reveals that he also killed Roberto. Greg is very upset by this , because...
Greg had planned that the building would be torched that night so he could avoid having to restore it as a landmark and could build an entirely new building. The figures spotted on the fire escape by others were his henchmen placing explosives. The signal for the torching was when Roberto left the building and the lights went out. He tells Martin they need to get out fast since he doesn't know if the henchmen have noticed Roberto's absence.
Around this time Dan revives in the inner office, he was not killed by the shots since he always wears his bullet-proof vest. He had mentioned that in act one, (I didn't, so sue me...) He tries to stop Dan and Martin but is quickly killed by, I think, Greg, who we learn is an expert at karate (he breaks Dan's neck in one move, kinda like the Spock Vulcan Stun on Star Trek). Also around this time Martin becomes very interested in the sin figures since they are pure silver and valuable, he was tipped off by Vassili's interest. Greg wonders why he is bothering and asks Martin to help him move Dan. Martin gathers the figures and manages to take Dan's handcuffs and handcuff Greg to the dead, and hefty sized, Dan. He's going to leave Greg to explode with the building and all the evidence.
Now, in the version I saw, Martin got into the elevator, went downstairs, the lights went out and the building began to explode (on stage fireballs!) with Greg frantically trying to signal his men from the window as the curtain fell. While this happened we heard Dr. Bering's voice from his dictaphone talking about the seven deadly sins and the eighth sin he had discovered... Control. His sin for manipulating the group members, and as we saw, the sin the others indulged in as they tried to blackmail Martin and Martin's control over his son, which all ended tragically.
Apparently this was changed right before opening so the Martin was fumbling with the keys to the elevator and dropped them down the elevator shaft and he fell in after them. And then the power went out again (as it had at various times due to the storm) and the building started to explode as the Dr.'s voice explained, etc., etc.
I must say the combination of the music, taped voice and fairly impressive explosions made for an exciting ending.
Assassins is about how society interprets the American Dream, marginalizes outsiders and rewrites and sanitizes its collective history. "Something Just Broke" is a major distraction and plays like an afterthought, shoe horned simply to appease. The song breaks the dramatic fluidity and obstructs the overall pacing and climactic arc which derails the very intent and momentum that makes this work so compelling...
- Mark Bakalor
Which is not to say that it is perfect...
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