What a crazy play! A production where apathy is partnered with activism to birth something altogether psychotic. Thisperformance combined atraditional theatre with performance art and came up with a classic id versus ego battle where nobody gets out alive.
Safe Death was conceived in early summer, 1993. Written partially in Santa Cruz and partially in Berkeley, at the root it is the story of two unhappy fellows who find themselves with a broken down car at the side of the road in the middle of nowhere with their dead friend in the trunk who has made them promise to eat him when he dies. Max (the dead friend) has apparently always wanted to be eaten in the event of his death. He feels like there is no better way for his friends to appreciate him and deal with his passing on then to cook and devour his remains. Unfortunately for Flunky and Chunky (the friends, played at first by Mike and Ken, then later by Ken and Mike), Max has died in some sort of an Xtasy overdose and is now getting ripe in the back of the car. These two are in a bit of a panic and a bit of a drug haze. Flunky rails against their situation. Meanwhile Chunky just cries. What will they do?
The audience is unsure what they will do. This scene is preceded and followed by other scenes that follow the plot on a different realm of being. The trio of scenes is repeated twice, with the actors switching roles; the first scene is nearly verbatim, the second scene follows the same characters but continues their story, and the third scene explains away all of life's confusion with the roll of a die and the chunk of a blunk.
A slightly clearer explanation: The first and fourth scenes consists of two simultaneous monologues being delivered directly to the audience by unnamed unknown people. One is an apathetic negativist who can come up with no reason why he should go on. "The point is there is no point," he says with complete sincerity and confidence. The other, an optimistic activist, insists we could "Grow our own vegetable, make our own soymilk..." The lines that connect these two are minimal. A few moments of acknowledgment during their individual harangues and that's about it. The second time this scene is acted out, the lighting has changed to red strobe lights on a dark stage, and the actors are balanced on one foot up on bar stools having switched roles and costumes. The second and fifth scenes follow the aforementioned Skunk and Blunky. By the end of the fifth scene, Blunky has revealed his butchers knife and has decided to do the deed, to chop up and eat Max. We see them douse their automobile and run off into the woods with a naked Max slunk over their shoulder. Whatever happened to Max? We don't know. In the third and sixth (final) scenes, we are dealing with a very strange reality...
This play was the first to introduce Chunk on a large scale. Chunk at this point, was just the mindmelt of a small group of artists who were turning to alternate methods of communication to combat the increasing complexities of modern life. But Safe Death brought chunk into the light. In scenes three and six, two chunkies (monks of Chunk) (you need to free your mind for this shit, see) are together chunking. They have this conversation during scene three, in this alternate language (chunk) for a few minutes and then pull out what was called the Chunk Die. They roll said die (singular of dice) and when it stops rolling, they respond to it and show the audience guns hidden in their pants. This is not explained, let nothing be explained. In scene six we are back to these doomed fellows. Of course, like all other scenes the actors have switched rolls again. This time the chunk flows heavily and taped recordings of many people chunking are played and the goal (which mostly succeeded) was to have the entire audience chunk along also. Finally the pistols are drawn, safely I might add, and death is consummated.
There are those who claimed this play was homoerotic. We wouldn't want to disagree. Sexual tension lies everywhere, even and perhaps especially, while traveling the desolate highway to enlightenment.